Researchers from the University of Cape Town (UCT) have cast doubt on the long-held belief that coughing is the main means of spreading tuberculosis (TB), presenting new research at international conference that found regular breathing may be a far bigger contributor. – Business Day (20 October 221).

The UCT scientists used a specially constructed chamber to study the relative contribution of coughing, deep breathing and regular, or “tidal”, breathing to the expulsion of tiny aerosols containing Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacteria that causes TB. They found tidal breathing contributed 90% of the aerosols expelled by an infected person, challenging the belief that coughing produced most of these droplets. The findings suggest the current approach to TB control, which relies on testing and treating people who feel sick enough to seek care, may not be sufficient.

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