BENGALURU: With the public, government and media focused on Covid-19, reporting and screening of tuberculosis (TB) has taken a hit. From January to September, 45,839 cases of tuberculosis were notified in Karnataka. The actual numbers are much higher as Covid-19 has hit both active (door-to-door screening) and passive (people reporting to PHCs) TB case findings.Data shows notification of new TB cases dropped from 8,163 patients in January to 3,417 in August. Of the 45,839 cases, 9,212 were reported from private hospitals and 36,628 from government facilities. Last year, 90,176 cases were notified in the state, with 12,215 from private centres and 72,961 from public health facilities.
TB is a preventable and curable airborne disease which affects the lungs and includes symptoms of cough for more than two weeks, night sweats, fever, loss of appetite and weight, sweating etc. Extra pulmonary Tuberculosis includes swelling of lymph nodes, and affects the abdomen, kidney and other organs.This year, 2,634 TB-related deaths were reported so far in Karnataka. Till September, 307 took place in private hospitals and 2,327 in government centres. While a death audit has not been done, reasons can include comorbidities like cancer, cardiovascular diseases, HIV, diabetes etc.
The number of deaths recorded has consistently reduced since January.Ramesh Reddy, Joint Director, Tuberculosis, health and family welfare department, said, “As symptoms of cough and fever are common to both TB and Covid-19, people fear to report symptoms to health staff who come for door-to-door screening. Now, the government has decided to screen Covid-19 patients, ILI and SARI cases for TB, and all TB cases for Covid-19.”
At present, health staff from the TB programme has been diverted for corona duties. They are responsible for finding suspect cases, getting them tested, treated and following up for two years post recovery. “A person with a cough for more than two weeks is more likely to have TB than Covid-19. It spreads easily in densely populated areas, slums, among migrant workers and those who work in mines,” Reddy added.Unlike Covid-19 that takes up to 14 days for asymptomatic people to recover from, TB takes a minimum of six to eight months and a maximum of 1.5 to 2 years.