Tuberculosis (TB) continues to pose a threat to Turkish society, according to a statement from the undersecretary of the Ministry of Health.
Nihat Tosun, speaking to the Anatolia news agency to mark the 65th anniversary of Turkey's annual TB Education and Awareness Week, said that in order to attract attention to TB and increase public awareness about the disease, the week beginning on the first Sunday in January each year was established as TB Education and Awareness Week. Tosun added that tuberculosis has a long history and still remains an important public health concern in Turkey and around the world.
Defining TB, Tosun said tuberculosis is an infectious disease that affects the respiratory system and is caused by a bacillus called Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
Revealing figures on TB cases in Turkey, Tosun said that in 2010 there were 16,551 people (60 percent male) who were undergoing treatment in tuberculosis control dispensaries.
As part of TB checks conducted by the Department of Tuberculosis Control in the provinces of Antalya, Aydın, Bursa, Diyarbakır, Edirne, Erzurum, Eskişehir, Gaziantep, İstanbul, İzmir, Kayseri, Konya, Muş, Sakarya, Samsun, Trabzon and Van between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2011, 181,191 people were screened and tuberculosis was found in 33 of them.
Tosun went on say that this disease is also prevalent around the world, adding that according to figures from the World Health Organization (WHO), about one-third of the world's population (2 billion people) have been infected with TB, 9 million are infected with TB every year and in 2010 about 1.5 million died from this disease.
Tosun also said TB is most prevalent in African and South Asian countries, and although it is a curable disease, death as a result of contracting it is still common both in Turkey and the world.
Warning the public about the symptoms of TB, Tosun said the symptoms of the disease are exhaustion, losing weight, high fever and night sweats. However, the most common symptoms, she noted, are coughing up blood and mucus, and said people should be very careful if they have a cough. Tosun also added that people who have a cough for more than three weeks should make an appointment with a doctor to check for tuberculosis.