Can Vinegar be Used to Treat Tuberculosis?

There is a real need for less toxic and less expensive disinfectants that can eliminate TB and non-TB mycobacteria, especially in resource-poor countries

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Nutritional therapists have known about this product for years and will often recommend it to clients to help stimulate the digestion, alkalise the body and help with weight loss
Nutritional therapists have known about this product for years and will often recommend it to clients to help stimulate the digestion, alkalise the body and help with weight loss. Pixabay

An international team of researchers has found that an active ingredient in vinegar can effectively kill mycobacteria, even the highly drug-resistant mycobacterium tuberculosis.

Acetic acid in vinegar might be used as an inexpensive and non-toxic disinfectant against drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) bacteria as well as other stubborn, disinfectant-resistant mycobacteria, they found.

“For now, this is simply an interesting observation. Vinegar has been used for thousands of years as a common disinfectant and we merely extended studies from the early 20th century on acetic acid,” explained Howard Takiff, head of the laboratory of molecular genetics at the Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Investigation (IVIC) in Caracas, Venezuela.

Mycobacteria are known to cause tuberculosis and leprosy, but non-TB mycobacteria are common in the environment, even in tap water, and are resistant to commonly used disinfectants.

vinegar
Representational image. Pixabay

While investigating the ability of non-TB mycobacteria to resist disinfectants and antibiotics, Takiff’s postdoctoral fellow Claudia Cortesia stumbled upon vinegar’s ability to kill mycobacteria.

Testing a drug that needed to be dissolved in acetic acid, Cortesia found that the control with acetic acid alone, killed the mycobacteria she wanted to study.

“After Claudia’s initial observation, we tested for the minimal concentrations and exposure times that would kill different mycobacteria,” noted Takiff.

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“There is a real need for less toxic and less expensive disinfectants that can eliminate TB and non-TB mycobacteria, especially in resource-poor countries,” Takiff observed.

Whether it could be useful in the clinic or labs for sterilising medical equipment or disinfecting cultures or clinical specimens remains to be determined, said the study published in mBio, the online journal of the American Society for Microbiology. (IANS)

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Can TB Vaccine Fight COVID-19? Here is the Answer

TB vaccine a potential new tool to fight COVID-19: Study

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vaccine
Researchers have found that Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG), a vaccine for tuberculosis (TB), could be a potential new tool in the fight against the disease. Pixabay

Examining how the COVID-19 has impacted different countries, researchers have found that Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG), a vaccine for tuberculosis (TB), could be a potential new tool in the fight against the disease.

The study that appeared in the pre-print repository medRxiv, proposed that national differences in COVID-19 impact could be partially explained by the different national policies respect to BCG childhood vaccination.

The BCG vaccine has existed for almost a century and is one of the most widely used of all current vaccines.

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BCG vaccine has a documented protective effect against meningitis and disseminated TB in children.

vaccine
The BCG vaccine has existed for almost a century and is one of the most widely used of all current vaccines. Pixabay

It has also been reported to offer broad protection to respiratory infections.

For the study, the researchers compared large number of countries BCG vaccination policies with the morbidity and mortality for COVID-19.

“We found that countries without universal policies of BCG vaccination (Italy, the Netherlands, the US) have been more severely affected compared to countries with universal and long-standing BCG policies,” said the study conducted by researchers from New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) College of Osteopathic Medicine in the US.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the US has increased to 142,502, the highest in terms of infections globally, according to the latest tally from Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE).

The CSSE data showed that at least 34,026 people have died due to the disease in the country.

In Italy, which is one of the worst affected countries, 10,779 people have died due to COVID-19.

In this latest study on impact of BCG vaccination on COVID-19, researchers also found that countries that have a late start of universal BCG policy, for example, Iran had high mortality, consistent with the idea that BCG protects the vaccinated elderly population.

“There was a positive significant correlation between the year of the establishment of universal BCG vaccination and the mortality rate, consistent with the idea that the earlier that a policy was established, the larger fraction of the elderly population would be protected,” said the study.

vaccine
BCG vaccine has a documented protective effect against meningitis and disseminated TB in children. Pixabay

“For instance, Iran has a current universal BCG vaccination policy but it just started in 1984, and has an elevated mortality with 19.7 deaths per million inhabitants.

“In contrast, Japan started its universal BCG policy in 1947 and has around 100 times less deaths per million people, with 0.28 deaths. Brazil started universal vaccination in 1920 and also has an even lower mortality rate of 0.0573 deaths per million inhabitants,” the resulst showed.

Iran announced 2,901 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday as the total number of confirmed cases soared to 38,309. Also, the death toll from the disease reached 2,640 in Iran, while 12,391 patients have recovered.

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As the numbers of tuberculosis cases dropped in the late 20th century, several middle high and high-income countries in Europe dropped the universal BCG policy between years 1963 and 2010.

“The combination of reduced morbidity and mortality makes BCG vaccination a potential new tool in the fight against COVID-19,” the researchers concluded.

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Gonzalo H. Otazu of NYIT is the corresponding author of the study.

The COVID-19 death toll in Europe climbed to over 21,000 out of more than 360,000 confirmed cases. (IANS)

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Tuberculosis: World’s Number 1 Infectious Killer

The Other Pandemic: World Urged to Learn TB Lessons

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India World Tuberculosis Day
A relative adjusts the oxygen mask of a tuberculosis patient at a TB hospital on World Tuberculosis Day in Hyderabad, India. VOA

With the death toll soaring past 300,000 this year and a quarter of humanity now infected, the pandemic shows no signs of abating as it spreads invisibly throughout vulnerable communities.

Yet unlike the novel coronavirus, this disease is preventable, curable and centuries-old: tuberculosis.

On the occasion of World TB Day, experts warned Tuesday that the sheer number of people impacted by tuberculosis — which leaves survivors with permanent lung damage — means there are additional millions globally vulnerable to COVID-19.

TB is latent in one in four people on Earth and has been around for tens of thousands of years. Every year around 10 million people are infected; more than 1.2 million die.

India World Tuberculosis Day
Staff inspect medical equipments at an emergency hospital set up amid the new coronavirus outbreak in Jakarta, Indonesia. VOA

While TB was declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization back in 1993, it remains the world’s number one infectious killer.

The vast majority of TB deaths occur among poorer populations, meaning the disease is largely out of the mind of policymakers despite its devastating annual toll.

Experts say that global health systems could learn a number of lessons from the fight against TB, for which a vaccine exists and a diagnostic test takes minutes.

“We know what works to fight COVID-19 from our experience and the tools we have to end TB: infection control, widespread testing, contact tracing,” said Jose Luis Castro, executive director of The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases.

“Prevention of any disease requires political will — and prevention remains the biggest tool we have to address COVID-19.”

As of Tuesday 1100 GMT, there had been more than 386,350 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 16,961 of which have proved fatal.

World governments have taken unprecedented  peacetime measures to try to slow the spread.

Several European nations have announced country-wide lock downs as well as massive economic stimuli and financial support for businesses and workers.

India World Tuberculosis Day
Ventilators lie at the New York City Emergency Management Warehouse before being shipped out for distribution for tuberculosis patients. VOA

Grania Brigden, TB director at The tuberculosis union, told AFP that testing capacity was crucial in tackling both diseases.

“With TB we’ve struggled with research and development investment to get good, accurate diagnostic tools and better treatment but actually we are there now,” she said.

“It goes to show that where there is political will things can happen and unfortunately in TB the political will has always been an issue.”

Several countries on the frontline of the TB war are seeing their treatment and testing services disrupted by COVID-19, further straining healthcare systems as the pandemic spreads.

COVID-19 is already affecting supply chains of all medicines and most equipment used to treat other infectious diseases such as face masks and antibiotics.

There is in particular growing concern among the global health community that COVID-19 could especially hit regions such as sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia where healthcare systems are woefully under equipped to deal with a spike in cases.

“People affected by TB, HIV and other infectious diseases as well as prisoners, migrants and people living in poverty will be at greater risk of reduced access to healthcare,” The Union said in a statement.

Of the 4,400 people who die every day from TB, at least 200 of those are children.

While COVID-19 does not  appear to cause serious symptoms in children, they are thought to be significant spreaders of the disease to older people.

Brigden said that while TB in children was largely ignored by health responders, they went on to learn several lessons on disease control from them.

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“We understand that focusing on children is a key area,” she said.

“I hope that what comes out of this is the understanding that global health is important and that we need to protect vulnerable and at-risk people outside our own bubbles.” (VOA)

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Ways to Safeguard Yourself From Tuberculosis

World TB Day: Safeguard yourself with preventive tips

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tuberculosis
Tuberculosis, commonly abbreviated to TB, is a highly infectious disease that primarily affects the lungs. Pixabay

BY SIDDHI JAIN

Tuberculosis, commonly abbreviated to TB, is a highly infectious disease that primarily affects the lungs. As per World Health Organization (WHO), TB is one of the top 10 causes of deaths across the globe. Based on its latest report announced in 2019 , 10 million people across the world were infected by TB, out of which 26.90 lakh people had TB in India.

The report further stated that India had maximum number of Drug Resistant TB which is 27 percent of the total 1.30 lakh Drug-Resistant cases!

As per Dr Prashant Chhajed, HOD-Respiratory Medicine, Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi and Fortis Hospital, Mulund, Tuberculosis can affect several organs of the body, such as lungs, gastrointestinal system, brain, bones, pericardium (covering the heart), pleura (covering the lung) and lymph nodes – neck, chest and abdomen.

Pulmonary Tuberculosis is infectious and spreads via airborne transmission. The standard tests to diagnose Tuberculosis are on smear and culture. Smear tests are available quickly and the culture reports can take up to six weeks to detect tuberculosis.

tuberculosis
Once Pulmonary Tuberculosis is diagnosed it is recommended to have a good ventilation system at your home. Wikimedia Commons

In recent years, newer molecular tests, such as the CBNAAT/ TB GeneXpert have become available which enable rapid diagnosis even when the smears are negative and one is waiting for the culture reports to come. Furthermore, these molecular tests also enable the rapid diagnosis of Drug Resistant Tuberculosis, the expert said.

Keeping in mind the growing burden of TB in the country and across the globe, the theme of this year’s World Tuberculosis Day which is observed on March 24 is – �It’s Time’. It focuses on building awareness about TB through prevention and cure with an extended aim to make the world TB Free.

“TB is an airborne infection and when someone infected with TB coughs or sneezes, the bacteria is released into the air, thus infecting the environment. When people get sick with Pulmonary Tuberculosis, then the disease can be transmitted to others. Symptoms may occur within the first few weeks or months or years later, some of which include: A persistent cough that lasts three or more weeks, coughing up blood, chest pain, or difficulty while breathing or coughing, rapid weight loss, fatigue, fever, night sweats, and loss of appetite,” Dr Prashant said.

If you witness the above symptoms, you should visit your doctor to get tested and seek requisite treatment.

tuberculosis
When people get sick with Pulmonary Tuberculosis, then the disease can be transmitted to others. Wikimedia Commons

Here are the top preventive measures one should observe:

1. Restrict the transmission of the disease from an infected person to a non-infected person – Identify TB patients, avoid close contact with the person; if you do not know if a person has TB but is coughing rapidly, cover your nose and mouth and step away. If similar symptoms arise in yourself, visit your doctor for primary treatment.

2. Once Pulmonary Tuberculosis is diagnosed it is recommended to have a good ventilation system at your home, as TB can remain suspended in the air for several hours by doing so, one can limit the transmission of the airborne disease.

3. Follow good hygiene practices: Cover your mouth with your elbow while coughing or sneezing. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.

TB can be contracted by anybody, however, those who are at a higher risk include,

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  • People with a weaker immune system
  • People diagnosed with chronic diseases like Diabetes
  • Those with HIV/ AIDS
  • Persons from lower socio-economic groups driven by factors such as poverty,
  • malnutrition, poor sanitation, etc.
  • Healthcare personnel coming in contact with infected persons (IANS)