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World Tuberculosis Day Observed

This is the VOA Special English Development Report.

World Tuberculosis Day was March twenty-fourth. It was also the one hundred twenty-fifth anniversary of the discovery of the bacterium that causes the lung disease.

Tuberculosis is one of the world’s leading infectious diseases. The World Health Organization says about two billion people around the world are infected with the bacterium that causes the disease. About one-point-six million people died from the lung disease in two thousand five.

TB infection can remain inactive in a person’s lungs for years, or even a lifetime. The disease, however, becomes active in about ten percent of all cases. TB causes a high body temperature and coughing. Infected people spread the disease by releasing particles from their mouths when they cough, sneeze, spit or talk.

Most TB cases are in South and East Asia, Africa and West Pacific nations. The World Health Organization says about sixty percent of all cases are discovered and a majority of them are cured.

The health agency has a five-step program to guarantee that TB patients take their medicine correctly. The program is called Directly Observed Treatment, Short-Course, or DOTS. Directly observed means that local health care workers watch to make sure patients take their medicine every day. Full treatment usually lasts from six to nine months.

Some people, however, stop the DOTS program as soon as they feel better. That only makes the infection more difficult to treat. TB continues and grows into drug-resistant forms when patients fail to finish taking their medicine.

The World Health Organization declared TB a public health emergency in nineteen ninety-three. Since then, a new report shows worldwide tuberculosis rates are steady or falling. The report says the percentage of the world’s population with the disease reached a high level in two thousand four, and remained steady in two thousand five. If this continues for the next three to four years, WHO officials believe their Millennium Development Goal could be reached.

The goal is to discover at least seventy percent of infectious cases and successfully treat eighty-five percent of those cases by two thousand fifteen.

And that's the VOA Special English Development Report, written by Jill Moss. You can read and download audio of Special English programs at our web site, I’m Steve Ember.