The Occurrence of Tuberculosis

by Michael_Koger

For thousands of years, tuberculosis has ravaged communities and taken the lives of millions of people.

Tuberculosis is a well-known disease which, along with many other infectious ailments, has led to much morbidity and mortality across the globe. The approach to this condition has been to quarantine these patients from the community to prevent spread of the disease. Nevertheless, the development of antituberculous medication during the 1940s dramatically brought it under much better control [1, 2].

It remains one of the world’s deadliest infectious diseases, and with the emergence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) more than three decades ago, there has been a resurgence of tuberculosis. In fact, the presence of tuberculosis in any patient today is an indication to obtain an HIV test as the two diseases together will significantly complicate the management of these clients [1, 2].

A Global Infection

In 2013, approximately nine million people across the globe acquired tuberculosis.  One and a half million people died from it that year, and of those deaths, 360,000 were HIV-positive.  Of the nine million who acquired tuberculosis in 2013, a fourth of them resided in Africa where occurrence and death rates from the disease were especially high [1, 2]. 

Moreover, of all patients with tuberculosis and HIV coinfection who died in 2013, four-fifths were in Africa [1]. 

Tuberculosis and HIV have both made their ways to every region of the world.

Risk Factors for Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis especially occurs in regions where there is economic crisis and poverty.  Overcrowding of prisons tends to spread the disease.  When inadequate nutrition, illicit drug use, homelessness, or hazardous alcohol use is present, there is resurgence of tuberculosis particularly in dense populations [1, 2].

People whose immune systems do not function well are at risk for this disease.  This includes elderly people, children, those who are on long-term corticosteroid therapy, patients who are on cancer chemotherapy, and individuals with HIV infection.  Furthermore, diabetes mellitus will place a patient at risk for acquisition of tuberculosis [1, 2].


Along with malaria and HIV infection, tuberculosis is still one of the greatest public health threats today worldwide.


1.  Reeves, A., Basu, S., McKee, M. et al.  (2014).  Social protection and tuberculosis control in 21 European countries, 1995-2012:  a cross-national statistical modelling analysis.  The Lancet Infectious Diseases, 14, 1105-1112.

2.  World Health Organization.  (2014).  Global Tuberculosis Report 2014.  Retrieved November 3, 2014.

3.  The photo shows a scanning electron micrograph of Mycobacterium tuberculosis.  Reprinted with permission from the Centers for Disease Control and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.


The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact their physician for advice.

Updated: 11/03/2014, Michael_Koger
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