Overview

Tuesday 24 March is the World Health Organization’s World Tuberculosis Day. The goal is to end the global epidemic by 2035.1

Learning objectives

After successful completion of this CPD activity, pharmacists should be able to:

  • Explain the infectibility of tuberculosis.
  • Differentiate between latent tuberculosis and active tuberculosis infection.
  • Summarise current treatment regimens for latent and active tuberculosis infections.
  • Recognise the common adverse effects, precautions and counselling points for therapeutic agents used in the treatment of tuberculosis.

Competency standards addressed (2016): 1.1, 1.3, 1.5, 2.3, 2.4, 3.1

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Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide; one third of the world population is believed to be affected.2,3Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the most common causative organism. Mycobacterium africanum and Mycobacterium canetti cause rare cases of TB in Africa.3,4 DNA analysis indicates that the M. tuberculosis complex emerged approximately 70,000 years ago and accompanied migration out of Africa, expanding as a result of increasing population density in the Neolithic period.5 Between the 17th and 19th centuries, TB killed 1 in 5 adults in North America and Europe. In the developing world today, it is a cause of both high morbidity and mortality.5 In the World Health Organization’s 2018 Global Tuberculosis Report, it was identified as ‘the leading cause [of death] from a single infectious agent.’6

Transmission of TB

TB is an airborne pathogen that predominantly affects the lungs.4 Transmission is mainly by

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