A whopping 1.8 million young adults between 10 and 24 years of age are estimated to have developed tuberculosis in 2012, with those aged 20 to 24 years at the greatest risk of developing infectious tuberculosis, according to a research.
Tuberculosis (TB) is a major health concern and remains one of the top ten causes of death worldwide, despite being preventable and treatable.
Young adults aged 20 to 24 years are more likely to develop tuberculosis than younger adolescents, because they are more likely to come into contact with infectious tuberculosis through contact with friends and classmates, the researchers said.
"We know from previous studies that tuberculosis risk gets higher during adolescence and that young people have unique needs during treatment for tuberculosis, but until now there have been no estimates of the total number of adolescents who develop tuberculosis," said lead author Kathryn Snow, from the University of Melbourne in Australia.
"Adolescence is a critical period in our lives - many young people with tuberculosis are finishing high school, beginning their careers and starting families," Snow added.
"The disruption caused by tuberculosis can have serious long-term impacts, but the scale of tuberculosis burden among this group has been generally unrecognised," she explained, in a paper published in the European Respiratory Journal.
To estimate the global incidence of tuberculosis among young people as one group, Snow and her team separated existing data into three age bands: ten to 14 years, 15 to 19 years and 20 to 24 years.
The results showed that an estimated 1.05 million 20 to 24-year olds, 535,000 15 to 19 year olds, and 192,000 ten to 14 year olds developed active tuberculosis in 2012, totalling 1.8 million new tuberculosis cases among all young people.
This is still an estimate and the real figure for the number of new tuberculosis infections across all ten to 24 year olds could be as high as three million globally, the researchers stated.