Extra Pulmonary TB the Silent Killer

Rose Kaberia is an Extra Pulmonary Tuberculosis survivor. She started experiencing back pain which became unbearable causing her not to be able to walk properly or lift heavy material. After visiting a health center she ended up being treated for Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) and other ailments. Eight months later she was diagnosed with Extra Pulmonary TB.

Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease that falls under the classification of infectious diseases.  It comes in two forms Extra Pulmonary Tuberculosis- TB outside the lungs and Pulmonary Tuberculosis- TB that affects the lungs. Dr. Hussein Kerow, a medical doctor with a non-governmental organization Doctors without borders states that, Extra Pulmonary TB is not infectious and is spread through the body via blood. It affects any part of the body other than the hair and nails.

After numerous test scans and CT scans Kaberia was diagnosed with Extra Pulmonary TB of the spine. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) one in every five TB cases is Extra Pulmonary and it is common in children. Proper diagnostic for Kaberia was a sigh of relief as she knew what she was suffering from and doctors could administer proper treatment on her. Either way it came with its own fair share of challenges. She was put on medication for 9 months; she could take up to 4 tablets per day. The drugs need to be taken on a daily basis thus she had to make frequent trips to the hospital resulting to high transport costs and due to the heavy dosage she was required  to have a proper diet. These got her into financial constraints.

Due to few diagnostic equipment in Kenya, for Extra Pulmonary TB it is difficult to detect it. Dr Kerow states that many times patients are misdiagnosed due to its symptoms. “When one has back pain they do not know whether it’s TB, Urinary Tract Infection or a tumor”, says Dr. Kerow , “thus, diagnostic should be thorough” he adds. Extra Pulmonary TB if not detected and treated early could result to permanent damage such as paralysis.

Symptoms for Extra Pulmonary TB could range from night sweats, headaches, fever, and numbness depending on the kind of Extra Pulmonary TB one is infected with. Treatment is for 12 months for Drug Sensitive (DS) and between 18 to 20 months for Drug Resistance (DR) TB, he says.

The struggles Kaberia went through to get diagnosed with Extra Pulmonary TB and during the treatment process inspired her to create awareness concerning the disease in the community. “If we want to eliminate TB then we must not only talk about Pulmonary TB but also create awareness on Extra Pulmonary TB, because it is real” Rose Kaberia firmly states.


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