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By Evelyn B., Ph.d. Kelly, Ian Wilker, Marylou Ambrose

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Extra info for Tuberculosis and Superbugs. Examining TB and Bacterial Infections

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47 • TUBERCULOSIS and SUPERBUGS Preventing Streptococcal Pneumonia The first line of defense against S. pneumoniae is to get vaccinated. Two separate vaccines are available: one for children that helps prevent ear infections and pneumonia, and another for people over age sixty-five, children over age two, and adults with diseases that weaken their immune systems. The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine for children is given several times between infancy and age two and is mandatory in the United States and several other countries.

Women should not set their purses on the floor where they can pick up bacteria. And of course, everyone should wash their hands before entering a patient’s room, although they should not use bar soap in any hospital bathroom. Studies in Europe, Canada, and the United States have shown that an alarming percentage of doctors and nurses do not wash their hands between patients. They may be in a rush and simply forget, or figure it is not necessary because it was only a quick visit and they did not touch anything.

Blood is drawn from a patient and then mixed with synthetic TB proteins in a lab. If an immune response is noted under a microscope, the patient has been infected with TB bacteria. This test is more rapid than the Mantoux test because results are available in only twenty-four hours without a return to the doctor’s office to inspect the test site, and having had the BCG vaccine does not affect results. However, the test is still relatively new, so it is not yet widely available. TREATING TB In a perfect world, patients would be diagnosed quickly, start treatment immediately, and be cured in a few weeks.

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