Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease that lives in the lungs. It is a bacterium that can be spread through droplets from the mouth. There aren’t very many obvious symptoms other than coughing, but can remain latent (like it’s in hiding). One common way to check for an infection is by x-ray of the chest to see the state of the lungs.
I’ve been sifting through the World Bank data (World Development Indicators), and I’m considering using the data for new cases of tuberculosis per 100,000 people. This is the map of the data for 2007:
In any case, why might this be interesting? If there are many new cases of TB in a country, that might be a sign that the healthcare system is not very strong. Another thing to think about is why might some countries have more difficulty controlling TB just because of geographic reasons. There is also a link between TB and HIV and AIDS cases. People living with HIV and AIDS have a weakened immune system, and usually fall ill to other diseases as a result. This might be important in Africa, where rates of HIV are highest in the world and TB seems to be a big problem in some places.
That this is a measure of new cases is also important to consider because it can show us if there are areas with an ongoing epidemic that may take effort to get under control. The map shows that most of the countries with lots of new cases relative to population size are in sub-Saharan Africa. The stats are for per 100,000 people, which might mean that a low total number of cases may still be important if the population is also small.
If you are worried about contracting TB, this might be a good way to decide where not to go next. Mind you, this is the number of NEW cases in 2007, and does not include counts of already existing cases. Low numbers could mean the beginning or the end of an epidemic. There might be some bias to consider that some countries may be less unable to conduct tests for TB affordably and widely. TB can be treated by antibiotics, although there are some strains that are resistant. Check the World Health Organization website (WHO) or other health agencies for info when planning your next trip!