About 118,000 people have been diagnosed with active form of tuberculosis in Russia during 2007. The number of TB-infected individuals practically equals the number reported in 2006. The TB rate among children does not decrease: 3,372 children under 14 years of age were infected in 2007, ITAR-TASS reports.
The TB sickness rate in Russia made up 82.6 per 100,000 people in 2007. The highest rates of TB infection are registered in the Far East of Russia (132), in Siberia (127) and in the Ural region (103). The TB-related death rate among all those who passed away as a result of infectious or parasitic diseases makes up 80-85 percent across Russia.
Over one-third of the world's population has been exposed to the TB bacterium, and new infections occur at a rate of one per second. Not everyone infected develops the full-blown disease; asymptomatic, latent TB infection is most common. However, one in ten latent infections will progress to active TB disease, which, if left untreated, kills more than half of its victims.
In 2004, mortality and morbidity statistics included 14.6 million chronic active TB cases, 8.9 million new cases, and 1.6 million deaths, mostly in developing countries. In addition, a rising number of people in the developed world are contracting tuberculosis because their immune systems are compromised by immunosuppressive drugs, substance abuse, or HIV/AIDS.
The rise in HIV infections and the neglect of TB control programs have enabled a resurgence of tuberculosis. The emergence of drug-resistant strains has also contributed to this new epidemic with, from 2000 to 2004, 20% of TB cases being resistant to standard treatments and 2% resistant to second-line drugs. TB incidence varies widely, even in neighboring countries, apparently because of differences in health care systems. The World Health Organization declared TB a global health emergency in 1993, and the Stop TB Partnership developed a Global Plan to Stop Tuberculosis that aims to save 14 million lives between 2006 and 2015.
When people suffering from active pulmonary TB cough, sneeze, speak, kiss, or spit, they expel infectious aerosol droplets 0.5 to 5 µm in diameter. A single sneeze, for instance, can release up to 40,000 droplets. Each one of these droplets may transmit the disease, since the infectious dose of tuberculosis is very low and the inhalation of just a single bacterium can cause a new infection.
People with prolonged, frequent, or intense contact are at particularly high risk of becoming infected, with an estimated 22% infection rate. A person with active but untreated tuberculosis can infect 10–15 other people per year. Others at risk include people in areas where TB is common, people who inject illicit drugs (especially when sharing needles), residents and employees of high-risk congregate settings, medically under-served and low-income populations, high-risk racial or ethnic minority populations, children exposed to adults in high-risk categories, patients immunocompromised by conditions such as HIV/AIDS, people who take immunosuppressant drugs, and health care workers serving these high-risk clients.
Transmission can only occur from people with active—not latent—TB. The probability of transmission from one person to another depends upon the number of infectious droplets expelled by a carrier, the effectiveness of ventilation, the duration of exposure, and the virulence of the M. tuberculosis strain. The chain of transmission can therefore be broken by isolating patients with active disease and starting effective anti-tuberculous therapy. After two weeks of such treatment, people with non-resistant active TB generally cease to be contagious.
Prepared by Dmitry Sudakov