Mycobacterium Tuberculosis

Mycobacterium Tuberculosis is a bacterial species that is pathogenic and is responsible for most cases of tuberculosis in man. It belongs to the Mycobacteriaceae family, which hosts other species of mycobacteria such as Mycobacterium bovis responsible for TB in cattle. Understanding the origin, pathogenesis, diagnosis plus control may be critical to use in the reduction of tuberculosis cases in the world. Therefore, this short paper is going to provide all the essential information on Mycobacterium tuberculosis to enable the reader understand this species of mycobacterium.

Robert Koch identified the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria in 1882. However, research into fossils has proved that indeed the bacterium has a worldwide prevalence. Scientists still have to come up with a research-backed evidence of where the bacteria originated. Nevertheless, there are several theories as to the origin of the bacteria, with many scientists proposing that the bacteria begun as an animal bacterium such as the Mycobacterium bovis. However, after domestication of cattle by man and through the consumption of cattle milk, the bacteria evolved and adapted to the human host.

The Mycobacterium tuberculosis species has several major characteristics that significantly distinguish it from other forms of bacteria. Its unique feature as a bacteria is the presence of high levels of lipids on its cell walls, making it gram-resistant. Gram tests are the primary forms of bacteriological tests; therefore, to identify Mycobacterium tuberculosis, acid-fast staining is used instead. The bacteria are also unique in its rate of division, taking about twenty hours for a single cell to divide, as opposed to shorter times for other forms of bacteria. Apart from these general characteristics, the bacteria are also highly aerobic, requiring high oxygen concentrations to survive, making the lungs their most suitable location. They are also facultative intracellular pathogens, attacking the mono-cellular macrophages.

Some of the main symptoms of the disease include high fever, anorexia, nighttime sweating, persistent cough (could have a tinge of blood on sputum), tiredness and loss of weight. There are many antibacterial drugs used for the treatment of the disease, the main being streptomycin and isoniazid. The best method of control so far is the use of a live attenuated vaccine named Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine.


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