Tuberculosis (TB) is an airborne infectious disease caused by organisms of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex. Although primarily a pulmonary pathogen, M. tuberculosis can cause disease in almost any part of the body. Infection with M. tuberculosis can evolve from containment in the host, in which the bacteria are isolated within granulomas (latent TB infection), to a contagious state, in which the patient will show symptoms that can include cough, fever, night sweats and weight loss. Only active pulmonary TB is contagious. In many low-income and middle-income countries, TB continues to be a major cause of morbidity and mortality, and drug-resistant TB is a major concern in many settings. Although several new TB diagnostics have been developed, including rapid molecular tests, there is a need for simpler point-of-care tests. Treatment usually requires a prolonged course of multiple antimicrobials, stimulating efforts to develop shorter drug regimens. Although the Bacillus Calmette–Guérin (BCG) vaccine is used worldwide, mainly to prevent life-threatening TB in infants and young children, it has been ineffective in controlling the global TB epidemic. Thus, efforts are underway to develop newer vaccines with improved efficacy. New tools as well as improved programme implementation and financing are necessary to end the global TB epidemic by 2035.
Madhukar Pai, Marcel A. Behr, David Dowdy, Keertan Dheda, Maziar Divangahi, Catharina C. Boehme, Ann Ginsberg, Soumya Swaminathan, Melvin Spigelman, Haileyesus Getahun, Dick Menzies & Mario Raviglione
Nature Reviews Disease Primers volume 2, Article number: 16076 (2016) | Download Citation