Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Outbreak of "Virtually Untreatable" TB

By Daily Mail Reporter: "The world could be on the brink of an outbreak of a deadly and ‘virtually untreatable’ strain of drug resistant tuberculosis unless immediate action is taken, doctors have warned.  The first cases of 'totally drug-resistant' tuberculosis have been found in South Africa, according to a new paper published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Emerging Infectious Diseases journal.  Clinics across the country ravaged by the bacterial lung infection, have reported an explosion in the number of patients struck down with a virulent strain.  Fears are mounting that conventional treatments would be next to useless in the face of the new disease, which killed 1.4 million people globally in 2011, according to the World Health Organisation.  The disease is particularly prevalent in South Africa, where high rates of HIV means the immune systems of many more people are susceptible to infections.  But compounding the problem is the higher cases in which the illness is only partially treated.  This has led to the disease evolving into a strain which is not vulnerable to antibiotics. As far back as March 2010, the World Health Organisation warned that in some areas of the world, one in four people with tuberculosis were being struck down with the 'disease that can no longer be treated with standard drugs regimens'.  After widespread vaccination in much of the developed world, the disease has been largely isolated in 22 so-called 'high burden' countries - including South Africa.  These poorer regions account for around 80 per cent of global cases of TB.  But it is feared not enough is being done to tackle the growing problem, which is not limited to South Africa.  A New York hospital was hit by a multi drug-resistant TB outbreak in the early '90s.  Of the 32 patients who caught the infection, 29 died (over 90%).  Serious outbreaks have also been reported in Peru, Russia, and India during the last ten years. Read more: outbreak