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“World Tuberculosis (TB) Day” – falling on March 24 each year – is designed to generate public awareness about tuberculosis and the efforts made to prevent and treat this disease. The one-day annual event commemorates the discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (the bacillus that causes TB) by Dr. Robert Koch in 1882. Sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO), the campaign sheds light on the devastating health, social and economic consequences of TB, and emphasizes the need to step up efforts to end the global TB epidemic. Regarded as a potentially serious infectious disease, Tuberculosis (TB) mainly affects your lungs, even though it can attack any part of the body such as the spine, kidney and brain. The bacteria that cause this infection spread from one person to another through tiny droplets released into the air via coughs, spits and sneezes. Not everyone infected with TB bacteria becomes sick. As a result, two TB-related conditions exist – latent TB infection (LTBI) and TB disease. If left untreated, the condition can become fatal causing severe complications. Treatment for this condition involves medications (for at least 6-9 months) to eradicate infection and prevent the development of antibiotic resistance. Pulmonologists or other infectious disease specialists diagnosing and treating TB patients can utilize the services of reliable medical billing and coding companies to get the correct medical codes reported on their medical claims for accurate reimbursement.

Tuberculosis (TB) is regarded as one of the top ten causes of death and the leading cause from a single infectious agent (above HIV/AIDS), worldwide. According to reports from the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 10 million people fell ill with tuberculosis around the world (2018 statistics). This figure included 5.7 million men, 3.2 million women and 1.1 million children – from all the countries and age groups. It is estimated that 1.5 million people died from the disease, (including 251,000 people who also had HIV). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 9,025 cases of TB were recorded in the United States in 2018 – the lowest number on record. The global campaign presents a unique platform to alert the general public about the types of TB infections, their causes, symptoms, the need for undergoing regular diagnosis and prevention and control measures.

Generally, TB affects the lungs, though symptoms can develop in other parts of the body. The condition is more common in people with weakened immune systems. When TB occurs outside your lungs, signs and symptoms vary according to the organs involved. Signs and symptoms include – coughing up blood or sputum (phlegm), coughing that lasts three or more weeks, chest pain, or pain with breathing or coughing, unintentional weight loss, fatigue, fever, night sweats, chills and loss of appetite. The risk factors associated with the condition is quite higher in older adults and young children, people who use injected recreational drugs, anyone who first developed the infection in the past 2-5 years and people who have not received appropriate treatment for TB in the past.

Diagnosis of tuberculosis generally begins with a detailed physical examination. Physicians will check the patient’s lymph nodes for swelling and use a stethoscope to listen carefully to the sounds of the lungs while breathing. One of the most commonly used tests for TB diagnosis is – a simple skin test – wherein a small amount of a substance called PPD tuberculin is injected just below the skin inside the forearm. The physician will check for swelling at the injection site (within 48 to 72 hours). A hard, raised red bump at the injected site indicates the presence of TB infection. Other additional diagnostic tests include blood test and sputum tests. Imaging tests like X-rays and CT scans will be conducted to confirm or rule out latent or active tuberculosis. Diagnosing the condition in its early stages may help manage or prevent the condition in a better manner.

When compared to other bacterial infections, treatment for tuberculosis takes a much longer time. Medications are the basis of tuberculosis treatment. The exact drugs and length of treatment depends on patient age, overall health, possible drug resistance and the infection’s location in the body. Treatment for active TB may involve consuming several antibiotics for at least 6-9 months. When a person has a drug-resistant strain of TB, the treatment will be more complex. On the other hand, for latent TB, medications include – Isoniazid, Rifampin, Ethambutol (Myambutol) and Pyrazinamide. For patients who have drug-resistant TB, a combination of antibiotics called fluoroquinolones and injectable medications, such as amikacin or capreomycin (Capastat) are generally used for 20 to 30 months. However, it is essential for patients to complete the full course of treatment, even if the symptoms disappear. For instance, if a person stops consuming their medications early, some bacteria can survive and become resistant to antibiotics. In this case, the person may go on to develop drug-resistant TB. In addition, depending on the parts of the body that TB affects, a physician may also prescribe corticosteroids.

Pulmonologists or infectious disease specialists treating tuberculosis patients must correctly document the symptoms, screening tests and treatment procedures using the right medical codes. Medical billing and coding services offered by reputable service providers can help physicians use the right ICD-10 codes for their medical billing purposes. ICD-10 codes for the different types of tuberculosis include –

A15 – Respiratory tuberculosis

  • A15.0 – Tuberculosis of lung
  • A15.4 – Tuberculosis of intrathoracic lymph nodes
  • A15.5 – Tuberculosis of larynx, trachea and bronchus
  • A15.6 – Tuberculous pleurisy
  • A15.7 – Primary respiratory tuberculosis
  • A15.8 – Other respiratory tuberculosis
  • A15.9 – Respiratory tuberculosis unspecified

A17 – Tuberculosis of nervous system

  • A17.0 – Tuberculous meningitis
  • A17.1 – Meningeal tuberculoma
  • A17.8 – Other tuberculosis of nervous system
    • A17.81 – Tuberculoma of brain and spinal cord
    • A17.82 – Tuberculous meningoencephalitis
    • A17.83 – Tuberculous neuritis
    • A17.89 – Other tuberculosis of nervous system
  • A17.9 – Tuberculosis of nervous system, unspecified

A18 – Tuberculosis of other organs

  • A18.0 – Tuberculosis of bones and joints
  • A18.1 – Tuberculosis of genitourinary system
  • A18.2 – Tuberculous peripheral lymphadenopathy
  • A18.3 – Tuberculosis of intestines, peritoneum and mesenteric glands
  • A18.4 – Tuberculosis of skin and subcutaneous tissue
  • A18.5 – Tuberculosis of eye
  • A18.6 – Tuberculosis of (inner) (middle) ear
  • A18.7 – Tuberculosis of adrenal glands
  • A18.8 – Tuberculosis of other specified organs

A19 – Miliary tuberculosis

  • A19.0 – Acute miliary tuberculosis of a single specified site
  • A19.1 – Acute miliary tuberculosis of multiple sites
  • A19.2 – Acute miliary tuberculosis, unspecified
  • A19.8 – Other miliary tuberculosis
  • A19.9 – Miliary tuberculosis, unspecified

World Tuberculosis Day was first launched in the year 1982 by the International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (IUATLD). In 1996, the World Health Organization (WHO) joined the union and other organizations that fight against TB. In 1998, an initiative named Stop TB Partnership was incepted as a means of eradicating the infectious disease.

The theme for 2020 World Tuberculosis Day “It’s TIME” puts the accent on the urgency to act on the commitments made by global leaders to scale up access to TB prevention and treatment; build accountability; ensure sufficient and sustainable financing including that for research; promote an end to stigma and discrimination; and promote an equitable, rights-based and people-centered TB response.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has also launched a joint initiative “Find. Treat. All. #EndTB” with the Global Fund and Stop TB Partnership, with the aim of accelerating the TB response and ensuring access to care, in line with WHO’s overall drive towards Universal Health Coverage. As part of the campaign, the WHO calls on governments, affected communities, civil society organizations, healthcare providers, and national/international partners to unite forces under the banner “Find. Treat. All. #EndTB” – to accelerate the commitment to end TB and ensure that no one is left behind.

Join World Tuberculosis Day Observance on March 24! Take action to end TB!