KOCHI: While many health experts highlight lack of conclusive evidence to prove that Covid triggers tuberculosis (TB), a possible increase in TB cases is being seen across the state, especially in post-Covid patients.Dr Dev Kiran, district TB officer of Thiruvananthapuram says it is important to screen patients who recovered from Covid for TB, as both are infectious diseases that primarily attack the lungs. They also have similar symptoms such as cough, fever, and difficulty in breathing.

“Between January and May, 273 people in the state were diagnosed with both TB and Covid through Bi-directional TB-Covid screening. The number of TB cases detected while screening for influenza-like illness (ILI) is 274, with a 3.6 per cent test positivity rate (TPR). TB cases detected while screening for severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) that required treatment is 159, with 6.8 per cent per cent.”

Dev says TB progresses slowly and people often tend to relate their symptoms to some seasonal illness. “When these patients contract Covid, it causes small clots in the blood vessels inside the lung tissue, leading to inflammation. However, it is often assumed to be due to Covid and the patients are put on steroids. So, many persistent respiratory symptoms in people who have recovered from Covid are mistaken as post-Covid issues and not TB,” he says.

TB is considered an epidemic in India and is present in around 40 per cent of the population. Since the symptoms are very similar to Covid, it is difficult to diagnose TB early. 
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