1. What is tuberculosis?

Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by a bacterium, Mycobacterium tuberculosis. 

2. How is tuberculosis caused?

TB is spread through the air by a person suffering from TB. A single patient can infect 10 or more people in a year, if not treated.

3. What are the symptoms of tuberculosis?

Common symptoms of tuberculosis are:

·        Cough for two weeks or more, sometimes with blood-streaked sputum

·        Fever, especially at night

·        Weight loss

·        Loss of appetite

4. Benefits of DOTS/ Why DOTS?

1.      More than doubles the accuracy of TB diagnosis.

2.     Its success rate is up to 95%.

3.     It prevents the spread of tuberculosis by prioritizing sputum positive patients for diagnosis and treatment, thus reducing the incidence and prevalence of TB.

4.    It helps in alleviating poverty by saving lives, reducing the duration of illness and preventing new infectious cases.

5.     It improves the quality of care and removes stigma.

6.     It prevents treatment failure and the emergence of MDR-TB by ensuring patient adherence to treatment and uninterrupted supply of anti -TB drugs.

7.     It lends credence to TB control efforts and the health system.

5. What is DOTS being implemented?

The DOTS strategy is in practice in more than 180 countries. By March 2006, India has extended DOTS to the entire country.  

6. What is the NTEP?

NTEP is National Tuberculosis Elimination Programme (NTEP) applying the principles of DOTS to the Indian context.  

7. How many people die from TB in India every year?

TB is one of the leading causes of mortality in india. It kills more than 300,000 people in India every year. 

8. Which is the strongest risk factor for tuberculosis among adults and how does it affects the spread of TB?

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV, the virus that causes AIDS) is the strongest risk factor for tuberculosis among adults. Tuberculosis is one of the earliest opportunistic diseases to develop amongst persons infected with HIV. HIV debilitates the immune system increasing the vulnerability to TB and increasing the risk of progression from TB infection to TB disease. An HIV positive person is six times (50-60% life time risk) more likely of developing TB disease once infected with TB bacilli, as compared to an HIV negative person, who has a 10% life-time risk.  

9. Can tuberculosis be cured in HIV co-infection?

Tuberculosis can be cured, even among HIV-infected persons. TB treatment with DOTS reduces the morbidity and mortality among people living with HIV.

10. For how long must tuberculosis treatment be taken?

Tuberculosis treatment requires at least 6 months of treatment.

11. What is Multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis?

Multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR TB) is caused by strains of the tuberculosis bacteria resistant to the two most effective anti-tuberculosis drugs available - isoniazid and rifampicin. MDR TB can only be diagnosed in a specialized laboratory.

12. What is the duration of treatment of Multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis?

Multi-drug-resistant Tuberculosis requires at least 9-11 months of treatment (shorter MDR regimen) with medicines which are 100 times more expensive and often highly toxic. If patient is not eligible for shorter regimen, then patient is given all oral longer regimen of 18-20 months.  Recently 6 months regimen is also being tried.