Tuberculosis Around the World

Posted: 11/10/2018


When travelling for business or pleasure, it is essential to check which vaccinations are required.  Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide, killing an estimated 1.3 million people last year.

The countries where people are most likely to catch the potentially-deadly lung infection tuberculosis have been revealed in a global report.  The World Health Organisation (WHO) released its Global Tuberculosis Report for 2018, which has a country-by-country breakdown of rates of the disease.

African and East Asian nations come off worst in the report, whereas island nations are less affected by the bacterial disease.  India had, by far, the most TB cases in 2017, with 2,740,000, more than three times as many as second-placed China's 889,000.

But because both countries have such big populations, the likelihood of catching it is lower than in smaller countries.

Highest cases of Tuberculosis (per 100 000 people – 2017)

  1.  Lesotho, Africa (665)
  2. South Africa (567)
  3. Phillipines (554)
  4. Mozambique (554)
  5. Gabon, Africa (529)
  6. North Korea (513)
  7. Timor Leste, Asia (496)
  8. Marshall Islands, Pacific (480)
  9. Papau New Guinea (432)
  10. Mongolia (428)

Wealthier, Western countries with modern healthcare are less bothered by TB with the US having just three cases per 100,000 people, the UK had nine, and Australia and Ireland both had seven per 100,000 residents.

What is Tuberculosis?

Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infection caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis.  The infection is spread between people by coughing and sneezing.

TB usually affects the lungs, but the bacteria can cause problems in any part of the body, including the abdomen, glands, bones and the nervous system.

In healthy people the bacteria are often killed by the immune system or at least prevented from spreading, but in some cases the bacteria can take hold and cause a more serious infection.

Some of the symptoms of TB are fever, coughing, night sweats, weight loss, tiredness and fatigue, a loss of appetite and swellings in the neck.

If the immune system fails to contain TB bacteria the infection can take weeks or months to take hold and produce symptoms, and if it is left untreated it can be fatal.


With treatment, TB can almost always be cured with antibiotics and people tend to stop being contagious after about three weeks of therapy.

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