The COVID-19 pandemic shooked the world this 2020. It started as an outbreak in Wuhan, China. A few months later, it became an epidemic, and not long after that, it became a global emergency, The COVID-19 - our worst nightmare. But, did you know that there is another disease lingering at the surface of the earth for decades that is kind of the same as the COVID virus? They have the same symptoms as cough, fever, and difficulty in breathing. The disease is called Tuberculosis also known as TBIt is also an infectious disease that attacks the lungs. The only difference is the incubation period and the slower onset of disease. And based on my research, TB became a global emergency too in the year 1993.

Learning all that got me questioning stuff like TB being known, infecting, and killing people for decades, why is there no vaccine yet? And with that phase for developing a vaccine or cure, do we even have a chance to develop a vaccine for COVID? Also, are we doing the right thing to end both these diseases?

With that in mind, I attend a group discussion facilitated by #TBFreePH for me to understand more about the disease. And here are some of the information I've learned:

  1. TB is the world's oldest disease.
  2. TB is the most infectious killer.
  3. TB is ranked 2nd to HIV
  4. The Philippines ranked 4th worldwide & Top 1 in Asia for the most number of cases.
  5. TB infection is Common and Contagious
  6. TB is Potentially Life-threatening 
  7. TB can happen to anyone.
  8. TB can happen in children.


TB can happen to anyone, even to our children. 

Actually, my initial reaction was that children have a stronger immune system than adults, and TB is a more likely disease for adults, diba? But wait, Mali ako! Another thing that I've learned is that the Primary Complex in children is considered Primary TB. Kaya pala familiar ako sa mga medicines that they mention to treat TB, kasi yung din yung ginamit ko noon for my kid. 

Tuberculosis can happen in Children 

A testament to that, I was able to interview a fellow momshie, Let's call her Jenny's Mom. She is a single mom to 5 kids, consists of 4 boys, and a 10-year-old daughter diagnosed with TB. Her daughter whom we nicknamed "Jenny" is the 4th child and the only girl. Jenny is currently feeling much better and on medication. But earlier this year, everything was different, painful, and heartbreaking.

Jenny seemed to be like a normal child, but later on, got sick, and diagnosed with UTI. UTI is very common in children. Jenny's mom followed the doctor's advice and had given her the prescribed antibiotics. Until earlier of 2019, They've noticed the blood in Jenny's urine. They've again consulted doctors and taken the prescribed antibiotics. Still, under a series of consultation, Jenny having TB is unknown to the family. And it just this year, 2020, in April, when Jenny started to look pale and always sleeping. That's when her mom decided to rush her to NCH National Children's Hospital.

2019 pa lang pinapacheck up na namin siya, iba ibang private clinic at hospital na rin pero walang nakapagsabi na tb ang sakit niya, puro yung uti lang niya ang ginagamot hanggang noong April nga , nagpatulong na ako sa Mayor namin na madala na siya sa ospital kasi yung last private clinic na pinuntahan namin nagsabi na siya iba na raw ang lagay ni Jenny at mas mabuti na dalhin siya sa hospital. Kaya dinala namin siya sa National Children's Hospital - Jenny's Mom

I asked her if she noticed any symptoms or sign that Jenny could have TB. and her response:

Jenny's Mom: Actually, wala po siyang symptoms na may TB, walang ubo, sipon, bihira naman lagnatin..ang talagang pinapa check up namin sa kanya ay UTI kasi umiihi siya na may kasamang dugo. Nag start yun mga early month ng 2019

Signs or Symptoms to keep an eye out for Kids that may be infected with TB

  • Bad Cough / Cough with Blood
  • Weight loss / Reduced Appetite
  • Persistent Fever / Chills
  • Night Sweats
  • Chest Pain / Weakness

When she said that it was April this year when they've decided to rushed Jenny to the hospital, I was worried how are they to do that because we are currently facing the COVID19 pandemic, where everything is much different and difficult. 

Naka community quarantine na tayo nyan diba? Hindi ba kayo nahirapan mag-punta sa doctors?

Jenny's Mom: Nahirapan talaga. Kaya nga nagpatulong kami sa Mayor namin. Nagpadala siya ng doctor galing sa health center para magawan ng referral ang anak ko.  Kailangan na talaga niya madala sa hospital.

Habang nasa NCH po kayo, natukoy ba ng mga duktor agad ang sakit nya? o May mga test pa na kinailangang gawin? 

Jenny's Mom: Marami pang tests ang ginawa bago nasabi na TB ang sakit niya. Mga 1-week na siya sa ICU bago na confirmed.

What is/are the Test needed to determine TB infection?

  • TB Skin Test
  • TB Blood Test
  • Rapid Sputum Test

Nung sinabi ng doctors na confirmed (TB), di ka ba nag attempt na mag pa-check pa sa iba? 

Jenny's Mom: Hindi, kasi nasi I.C.U. na noon anak ko. Tapos 2nd week na nasa ICU siya, bigla na lang sinabi ng doctor na baka macoma si Jenny, kasi umakyat na raw sa utak ang bacteria.

I.C.U. is also known as the Intensive Care Unit, meaning life-threatening talaga ang case ni Jenny. And the remarks of her doctor about the possibility of coma - confirmed it all.

Listening to their story, my heart ached for them. I can only imagine Jenny's condition, and so is the pain of her Mother. I know mas masakit sa kanya ito, na makitang nahihirapan ang anak. 

My thoughts on Jenny's Initial Diagnosis for TB: It was revealed to them after a week when Jenny was taken to the hospital and in critical condition. Even though Jenny was taken to a series of visits to manage her UTI, her doctors didn't consider TB back then. Maybe because of what her mom mentioned, that there's no symptoms or a sign of Jenny having TB. And the initial diagnosis was UTI. With that, determining Jenny's diagnosis may be difficult.

With the alarming news in her mind, Jenny's Mom decided to go for the TB Treatment.

Stay tuned for the next part of Jenny's Journey, featuring the Treatment & Challenges of a TB Care Patient

But for now, may we include Jenny & her mom in our prayers. May the Almighty God heal their family and all the TB Care patients out there.

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