According to a statement released by two tuberculosis (TB) treatment centers in Caracas, TB infection rates have increased by 40 percent between 2017 and 2018. The ongoing outbreak has been spurred by a severe shortages of medical supplies and pharmaceuticals. A further spread of the disease is anticipated in the coming weeks and months.
In addition to TB, several other diseases, including diphtheria, measles, dengue fever, Zika virus, and malaria, have made a resurgence in Venezuela in recent years. These outbreaks come amid a sociopolitical and economic crisis in Venezuela, with major shortages of medications and medical supplies (as well as food and other necessities), among various other issues. On average, more than eight out of ten medications are difficult or impossible to find in the country.
TB is caused by the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacterium. Although the bacteria usually infects the patient's lungs, TB can also affect the kidney, spine, and brain. Symptoms of an active TB infection include coughing, chest pain, fatigue, fever, chills, and sweats. If not treated properly, TB disease can be fatal.
Individuals are advised to take preventive measures to minimize the risk of contracting or spreading the disease (e.g. wash hands thoroughly and frequently, avoid contact with sick individuals, etc.) and consult a medical professional regarding vaccination options.