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Sunday, August 16

World Health Organization Recommends Sunshine to Prevent TB

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended two simple measures to reduce the spread of tuberculosis (TB), which kills nearly 2 million people per year: sunshine and air.

TB is a highly contagious bacterial disease that can be caught simply by inhaling air that infected individuals have coughed or sneezed in. Because of this ease of contagion, TB is a particular problem in crowded settings such as hospitals and prisons.

According to the WHO's Stop TB head Mario Raviglione, "simply opening the doors" can remove the stagnant air that the TB bacteria thrive in, thus significantly decreasing the risk that the disease will spread in institutional settings. Citing research findings that the bacteria are killed upon exposure to ultraviolet radiation, he also recommended that prisons and hospitals make every possible effort to increase their natural lighting.

The WHO's most recent figures estimate that 1.8 million people died from TB in 2008. Half a million of these were officially classified as AIDS deaths, since the immune-destroying virus had increased the deceased's resistance to the disease.

Approximately one-third of all people alive have been exposed to the TB bacteria, but few of these cases develop into active infections. The active form tends to develop in people who are immune compromised or pregnant, however, making it particularly dangerous.

TB is considered a major emerging global health threat. Although the number of new cases held steady from 2006 to 2007, antibiotic resistant versions of the disease are becoming increasingly common. According to the WHO, there have already been at least 500,000 reports of multi-drug-resistant TB -- which cannot be treated with at least two front-line TB drugs. In addition, 55 countries and territories have reported at least one case of "extensively drug-resistant TB," a strain that appears to be immune to all currently known TB treatments. -naturalnews

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