SOUTHERN CAPE NEWS - Without treatment, a person with TB will spread TB germs to 10 to 15 people every year, according to the Western Cape Health Department.
The importance of seeking treatment and completing the treatment in order to help win the fight against TB was stressed on World TB Day, Wednesday 24 March.
According to the department, the world is running out of time to act on the commitments made by global leaders to end TB, therefore the theme this year was "The Clock is Ticking".
9 months in hospital
Jessica Galant (36) from George went home on 17 March after spending nine months at Harry Comay Hospital for TB treatment.
Galant had to face the challenges brought on by TB on more than one occasion. When she was first diagnosed in 2019 after pain in her chest, she knew she had TB even before her results confirmed it.
"My father died of TB so I knew the symptoms," she said. She spent two months in Harry Comay Hospital for treatment. Tuberculosis once again knocked on her door in 2020 and she was diagnosed with MDR (multi-drug resistant) TB and had to spend nine months at Harry Comay Hospital.
"Although it was a lengthy stay, I cannot praise staff enough and thank them enough for their care and dedication. It has been a difficult year for all of us. It was difficult not being able to see family due to Covid-19," she said.
She wanted to especially thank Dr Alyssa Loftus. "She really helped and encouraged me. There are a lot of people with TB in my local community of Thembalethu, but people are scared to talk about it. I encourage them to seek help and get the treatment they need."
Nurse Olga Ngubane (45) works in Ward 4 at Harry Comay Hospital. She has been working at the hospital for 12 years and has many fond memories as well as sad ones. "Losing a patient is very sad. We also have the privilege of saying goodbye to patients who are well enough to return home."
Far-reaching consequences of pandemic
According to Loftus, the Covid-19 pandemic has had far-reaching consequences for chronic TB patients.
"Many were too afraid to seek treatment the past year and came in very sick and at an advanced stage of illness," she said. "We encourage patients to visit their local clinic for a diagnosis and treatment if needed. Also attend check-ups regularly."
She stressed the importance of washing hands regularly, keeping windows open where possible, coughing into your elbow, and being aware of TB among family, friends or people at work.
"Remember, TB can be cured, but only if you take your medication correctly. It can also become worse and perhaps drug resistant if you forget or stop taking your medication."
- Coughing for more than two weeks
- Sometimes coughing up blood
- Unexplained weight loss
- Drenching night sweats or fever
- Chest pain and other aches
- Sudden loss of appetite
- Rapid weight loss
- Fevers for more than two weeks
- Loss of consciousness
- Drowsiness or excessive sleepiness
If you or your child have these symptoms, go to the clinic immediately to be tested for TB.
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