RKI: Increase in tuberculosis cases in children in Germany
According to the Robert Koch Institute, more children have contracted the infectious disease tuberculosis in the past than was previously the case. The experts suspect that the dangerous lung disease will flare up again.
Tuberculosis (TBC), formerly known as consumption, is a disease caused by bacteria. In most cases, bacterial inflammation affects the lungs in humans. It is one of the infections with the most deaths worldwide. In 2008 alone, 1.8 million people died of TBC worldwide. In Germany, people with a weakened immune system or a genetic susceptibility to the disease of the lungs get sick. In the past decades, the infectious disease seemed to be almost forgotten in Germany, since an occurrence is rather rare.
More cases of infection in children
According to an evaluation by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), more children have been infected with the tuberculosis pathogens since 2008. Since then, the number of cases has increased year after year, according to the RKI. In 2008 there were 124 patients, in 2009 the number of children was 142. In 2010, the number of sick children rose again to 158. The RKI only considered children and adolescents under the age of 16 (15 years). Health experts from the authorities see this as a sign of a renewed advance in tuberculosis in Germany.
Since the disease is one of the notifiable diseases, an exact case number can be determined throughout Germany. In 2010, a total of 4,330 people were infected with a tuberculosis germ. In the same period last year 2009 it was hardly more than 2010. Although the lung disease can be managed well with timely therapy with a combination of antibiotic drugs, the death rate was nevertheless relatively high. A total of 136 people died of tuberculosis, according to the RKI. "Given the severity of the disease and the treatment duration of at least six months, that's still too high," said Dr. Reinhard Burger, Chairman of the RKI. Until 2008, the institute was still able to determine a falling rate of new cases. The number of new infections has been increasing since the year and is approaching "a plateau" according to the RKI. As a result, health authorities and agencies are working hard to determine the causes and chains of infections and to interrupt them accordingly. If TBC was diagnosed in children, the infection was more recent.
Tuberculosis is a droplet infection
The TBC is usually transmitted via droplets of sick people in the vicinity. If specific germs were found in the sputum, doctors speak of "open tuberculosis". If bacteria are detectable in other secretions of the body, doctors speak of "potentially open tuberculosis". Coughs carry the germs into the environment, where they can survive in the air for hours. A common route of transmission is the consumption of unpasteurized milk, as herds of cattle can also become infected with TBC. Therefore, especially children, the elderly and immunocompromised people should only drink pasteurized milk. (sb)
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Image: Author: KGH Permission, Wikipedia. Picture shows the pathogen.