Tuberculosis, like Covid, spreads in aerosols, scientists report – .

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Tuberculosis, like Covid, spreads in aerosols, scientists report – .


The new finding doesn’t change that understanding: a single cough can expel more bacteria than a single breath. But if an infected person breathes 22,000 times a day while coughing up to 500 times, the cough is only 7% of the total bacteria emitted by an infected patient, Dinkele said.

On a crowded bus, at school or at work, where people sit in confined spaces for hours, “just breathing would produce more infectious aerosols than coughing,” Dinkele said.

In what is called tidal breathing, inhaling opens up tiny air sacs in the lungs, then exhaling carries bacteria from the lungs via aerosols. Due to their smaller size, aerosols released by tidal breathing can stay afloat in the air longer and travel farther than droplets emitted by coughing.

As with Covid, some TB patients transmit the disease to many people – and can release a lot of bacteria – while others infect few people around them. But even if 90 percent of the bacteria expelled by an infected person were carried in aerosols, this route of transmission wouldn’t necessarily represent 90 percent of new cases, warned Dr Silvia S. Chiang, who studies the disease at the. Brown University.

Still, experts say, the finding suggests doctors shouldn’t wait until TB patients arrive at clinics with severe coughs and weight loss, the telltale symptoms.

“We just need to screen the whole population, like you would if you are testing a lot for Covid,” Dr Horsburgh said.

The discovery is largely due to technology developed by Dr Robin Wood, Emeritus Professor of Medicine at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. The device can collect aerosols from infected people and identify the bacteria they contain.

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