A story for school children by Lyndi
Georgie had not been well for some time, but
now she was very sick.
She was coughing and did not want to eat her food. She also seemed to be
sweating a lot even though it was winter and it was cold outside.
Her parents were very worried about her and took her to see Dr Doug.
He listened to her chest and asked Georgie to spit out some phlegm.
He then looked at this sputum (spit) under his microscope.
He looked worried. He said it looked as if Georgie had Tuberculosis and so he
sent the sputum off to a laboratory to confirm his diagnoses.
Later that day Dr Doug phoned to say that the test had confirmed that Georgie
Georgie's mother was horrified because she thought that only squatters
or poor people got TB.
Georgie had been vaccinated against TB as a baby, so how on earth had she
Georgie's mother started to read all she could about this disease and she was
amazed to realize that most people are infected with the TB bacteria at some
stage or other, but that not everyone develops the disease.
If your resistance to infection is high and if you stay healthy you may
never develop the disease at all.
Georgie had not been well for some time and her resistance to infection was low
and so the bacteria had managed to establish itself in her body.
Georgie was put onto a treatment of special antibiotics and within a week was as
perky as ever. She no longer wanted to take her medicine, as she felt better
Her mom phoned the doctor but he warned that the treatment lasted for about six
months and that it was very very dangerous to stop taking the medicine just
because you felt better.
If you did stop taking the medicine the TB bacteria became immune to the
antibiotics and then when the TB came back again, your chances of being cured
were much lower.
The bacteria would then be stronger than the medicine (when this happens it is
called multiple drug resistant TB) and now you would have to have treatment for
up to 18 months. Even with the use of stronger drugs only 50% of the patients
with Multiple Drug Resistant TB survive.
This was scary and so Georgie now knew that she had no choice but to finish the
long course of antibiotics. This was the only way to beat the TB bacteria.
Georgie was very good about taking her medicine every single day. The clinic
sister explained to her mom that the medicine was free to anyone who has TB.
Georgie's teacher telephoned her Mother and asked that she please keep her away
from school, as she did not want the other children to get sick.
Dr Hamman telephoned the school to tell the teachers more about TB. Georgie did
not have to stay away from pre-school because once she had taken her medicine
she was not infectious to others.
As long as she stayed on the treatment, she wasn't infectious to anyone else.
The next day the clinic sister came to the school to explain to all the children
about TB. They could not believe their ears when she told them that Mr. Mandela
also had had TB.