Beware of latent TB, asymptomatic but can appear at any time

Chairman of the Stop TB Partnership Foundation, dr. Nurul HW Luntungan, MPH said latent TB is caused by bacteria hiding in a person’s body. The person does not appear to have TB disease.

“TB is caused by bacteria, and this TB bacteria is different from other bacteria. This TB bacteria can hide in the body and people who get the bacteria don’t necessarily look like they have TB,” he said at a virtual press conference in Jakarta, Tuesday (22/3).

Furthermore, the Coordinator of TB Substance, Directorate of Infectious Disease Prevention and Control, Ministry of Health, dr. Tiffany Tiara Pakasi, MA said latent TB infection occurs when a person is exposed to TB germs but has good immunity, causing him to have no symptoms. However, actually the germs are not lost but in a sleeping position.

“So that at any time if his immune system drops and others he can trigger these germs so that active tuberculosis occurs,” he said.

The control of latent TB has recently been included in the government program. It was established as a TB elimination program after there was a commitment to end TB by 2030.

“So, in the last few years, the government has focused on latent TB in the TB elimination program, and focused on the groups most at risk, in this case, close contacts of all ages,” said dr. Tiara.

Close contact screening is done through questions and examinations with a tuberculin test on the skin, or examination through blood. If it is known that there is latent TB, the person will be given TB prevention drugs.

In the tuberculin test, a small amount of a protein containing the TB bacteria will be injected into the skin under the arm. The injected skin is then examined after 48-72 hours. If the result is positive, it means that the person has been infected with TB.

However, continued dr. Tiara, because latent TB has no symptoms, most people don’t want to be screened. This is one of the obstacles in finding and treating people with TB.

“There is a need for education here. For people who are known to be positive for TB, they don’t take their medicine once, they take the medicine once a week at the earliest for 3 months, some for 6 months every day. So it is necessary to convince the community that we have tested the risk of latent TB to want to take medicine, “said dr. Tiara.

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