The family members and housemates who lived with tuberculosis patients are 17 times more likely to develop tuberculosis than other people, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said Wednesday.
Tuberculosis can infect nearby people such as family members or housemates who spend a lot of time with the patient because when patients speak or cough, the bacteria spread through the air, it said.
The KCDC tested 137,702 people out of 138,335 family members and housemates who contacted their family members who were tuberculosis patients between 2015 and 2018 and confirmed 1,180, or 0.9 percent, of them, had tuberculosis.
In the case of latent tuberculosis infection tests, 20,320 people, or 28 percent of 82,957 people were tested positive, while 6,367, or 27.4 percent, were treated with anti-cancer drugs, and 5,357 of them completed treatment.
The latent tuberculosis is a state of a persistent immune response to stimulation by Mycobacterium tuberculosis antigens, where the patients do not develop symptoms. However, the bacteria activate in about 10 percent of the latent tuberculosis patients and begin to infect others.
Among the tested subjects, 59,689 were children of families, including grandchildren, which took up 43.2 percent, and 41,333, or 29.9 percent, were spouses.
Through this study, the KCDC said it confirmed that transmission path among families, a high-risk group for tuberculosis infection, mainly progressed from parents and grandparents to children.
Moreover, families who had been tested for tuberculosis showed a 60 percent reduction in the risk of tuberculosis compared to those who had not been screened.
“We are conducting more active family contact investigations by expanding the number of survey targets, who made regular contacts with their family,” KCDC Director Chung Eun-kyeong said. “The KCDC hopes to minimize tuberculosis spread by detecting and treating the patients early, and asked for the public’s active participation in preventing tuberculosis infection with the health authorities to diagnose and treat latent tuberculosis patients.”
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