- Tuberculosis: no longer a life insurance threat
- March 28, 2015
According to recent news, a number of students have tested positive for tuberculosis (TB,) a contagious airborne infection that few even think about anymore. This serves as a firm reminder that TB is far from gone and still a threat around the world, according to the American Lung Association.
On March 24, 1882, Dr. Robert Koch unveiled research that isolated Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the cause of tuberculosis. His discovery marked a milestone in the fight against this deadly disease. World TB day was celebrated on March 24th to raise awareness about TB-related problems and solutions.
TB is a bacterial infection that most often affects the lungs. It is treated with antibiotics. Without treatment it can be fatal. Every year, TB is responsible for 1.5 million deaths globally, primarily in developing countries. The symptoms vary from weight loss to coughing. The infection is spread through the air by coughing or sneezing.
There is a long latency period between infection and clinical illness. The organism invades the lung and multiplies there, frequently causing few symptoms. One organism can multiply into a million organisms in 3 weeks, which then spread by the blood stream to all parts of the body.
TB prefers a high oxygen environment and grows best in areas with a good blood supply like the top of the lung, the outer kidney, the spine and the ends of the long bones. When the primary lung lesion heals, the chest x-ray may be normal or show focal calcification. Most patients have complete healing of the primary infection after 6 to 9 months of treatment using multiple drugs. In addition, TB cultures should be negative at the termination of treatment.
For more than 100 years, the American Lung Association has pursued its vision of a world without TB, and within the first 50 years of their efforts, TB in the United States was no longer a widespread disease. Today, TB infection rates in the U.S. are the lowest recorded since national reporting began in 1953. However, the decline has slowed in recent years.
TB falls into two categories Pulmonary and Extra pulmonary when it comes to applying for life insurance.
Pulmonary is the most common of the cases, affecting only the lungs. It is a Standard rate class at best case scenario, presuming treatment has been completed for at least 1 year afterwards. If there is evidence of significant lung impairment, it is treated like COPD.
Extra pulmonary is a less common active case where it spreads outside the lungs, causing other kinds of TB. In this case, it is likely going to create high premiums or a possible decline as well as Tuberculosis caused by a drug-resistant strain.
Underwriting concerns are as follows:
· Date of diagnosis and relapse if any
· TB site such as lung, bone etc.
· Hospitalizations or surgeries for the condition
· Evidence of recurrence
· Cigarette smoking
· Pulmonary function tests
· Other health problems and concerns
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