Similar term(s): TB, consumption.


Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by a bacterium, most commonly Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It affects tissues in the human body, mainly the lungs (pulmonary tuberculosis). It causes small tumors that destroy the tissue.

Symptoms include cough, fatigue, weight loss, difficulty breathing, and fever.

Source: GreenFacts


Tuberculosis is treated using a strict regimen of antibiotics. It requires long treatment periods (more than 6 months) to completely eliminate the bacteria. TB is often treated with a combination of several antibiotics taken at the same time, which reduces the risk of the bacteria developing a resistance to antibiotics.

Treatment is initially made using the so-called “first line” drugs. The most common first line drugs are isoniazid and rifampicin, and others are ethambutol, pyrazinamide and streptomycin. If the disease becomes resistant to those first line drugs, namely if it is resistant to both rifampicin and isoniazid, it is referred to as “multidrug-resistant tuberculosis” (MDR-TB), and requires the use of second-line drugs.

"Second line" because they are less effective or have more toxic side-effects. There are six classes of second-line drugs, each composed of a number of different antibiotics. If resistance develops toward one of the drug in a particular class, it usually means that the other drugs in that class will also become ineffective. When tuberculosis develops resistance to any of the drugs in the fluoroquinolones class, and to any one of the second-line anti-TB injectable drugs (Amikacin, Kanamycin or Capreomycin), then it is refered to as “extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis” (XDR-TB).

Source: GreenFacts

Related words:

Bacteria - Drug resistance - International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (IUATLD) - Tumour

To read about this term in context:

GreenFacts Summary on Respiratory Diseases in Children:

GreenFacts Summary on Global Public Health Threats:


Deutsch: Tuberkulose
Español: Tuberculosis
Français: Tuberculose
Nederlands: Tuberculose

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