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An old name for tuberculosis of the cervical (neck) lymph nodes, formerly often the result of drinking cows’ milk containing Mycobacterium bovis. The word means ‘little sow’, but why this was applied to this disease remains a matter for speculation.

Short-course chemotherapy (for tuberculosis)

So called to distinguish it from the older anti-tuberculosis regimens of 18 months duration, short-course therapy (SCC) refers to the standard six-month course of drugs for the treatment of tuberculosis. Most SCC regimens are divided into an initial 2-month intensive phase of four drugs (usually isoniazid, rifampicin, pyrazinamide and ethambutol), followed by a 4-month continuation phase of  isoniazid and rifampicin.

Side effects

All medicines can cause side effects and the most common side-effects from TB medicines are:  Stomach upsets such as nausea (feeling sick), vomiting and diarrhoea; flu-like symptoms such as chills fever, dizziness, joint and muscle aches; jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes); skin rashes and itchiness. A patient should be advised to stop taking all medicines and seek medical attention immediately if jaundice is suspected.

Smear positive/smear negative

Smear positive means that bacteria can be seen when a sample of sputum is specially stained and examined under a microscope. It usually indicates an infectious patient. Smear negative means that the bacteria could not been seen in a specimen. It may mean that disease is absent or that bacteria are too few to be seen.



Sputum microscopy

Examining a sample of sputum under a microscope.

See Corticosteroids.

Stevens-Johnson syndrome

A very serious and often fatal skin eruption occasionally caused by anti-tuberculosis drugs, notably thiacetazone in people living with HIV.


The first effective anti-tuberculosis drug, discovered by Albert Schatz and Selman Waksman in 1944. It is still used, especially in retreatment regimens, but must be given by injection.

Swimming pool granuloma

Also called fish tank granuloma, this is chronic warty skin lesion, resembling lupus vulgaris (qv) and caused by Mycobacterium marinum. It occurs particularly in those acquiring superficial injuries in swimming pools and in keepers of aquaria.


Symptoms are experienced and reported by a patient (as opposed to signs, which are discovered by physically examining a patient). The typical symptoms of TB are a cough, which lasts for at least three weeks; fever (high temperature); sweating (especially at night); unexplained weight loss; fatigue (lack of energy). People with non-pulmonary TB may experience pain or swelling in the affected part of their body. Not everyone with TB will have all of the symptoms listed above.


Illness accompanied by symptoms.

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