Smoking Shisha A Potential TB Super spreader-Expert

HOOKER Water Pipes also known as Shisha or Hubbly Bubbly could be possible transmitters of the bacteria that causes Tuberculosis (TB) from one person a group of multiple smokers at any given time, a local TB expert has warned.

By Michael Gwarisa

The warning comes in the wake of an increase in the uptake of the Shisha smoking in Zimbabwe around some of the popular joints where multiple smokers take turns to puff of on the pipes without following any hygiene etiquette.

According to data, the number of puffs inhaled from a hookah pipe is 10 times higher than when smoking a cigarette because sessions can go on for hours in bars and lounges and this means users are exposed to a higher volume of harmful bacteria and susceptible to infections. Often, shisha is smoked in large groups, rather than as individuals. By sharing mouthpieces, various commensal and pathogenic organisms may be transmitted between the smokers through saliva.

Speaking during a Stop TB partnership Social media campaign launch in Kadoma recently, Dr Charles Sandy, the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) National TB Program Manager said even though there was no available data to quantify the extent to which smoking Shisha spreads TB, the practice has been identified as one of the TB causing high risk behaviors in the country.

On Shisha, we don’t have any data to say this is the amount of  TB you get but I think with COVID-19 we know what’s happening with COVID. The common sense is there that you actually increase your risk of infection by sharing the same air with somebody who is infected but we don’t have any data as yet that we can refer to and say according to this study by so and so,” said Dr Sandy.

He added that men were at greater risk of developing TB due to high risk behaviors they engage in and unfortunately men rarely seek health services or TB screening on time.

“There is also some interesting aspect of TB when you look at the age and the gender. What we have seen is that the notification rate is lowest for those who are children and adolescents and then it starts to pick up and peaks for those who are between 35 and 54.

“You can also see that males seem to be disproportionately affected more by TB and the reason why it’s like this is because we know as males, the health seeking behavior is very poor, we are afraid as men to seek health services, we think we a macho and strong. We also have males engaging in a lot of high risk behaviors like smoking, enjoying life in the nightclubs, you also find people enjoying this Shisha business so much that now it seems like a craze. So a lot of risky behaviors are associated with being men.”

Other infections one could get from Shisha include herpes, hepatitis, COVID-19 among other respiratory ailments.

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