New Drug Resistant TB Has Spread – All Regions of World Affected By New Strain - AIDS Has Potential to Fast Track XDR-TB

New Drug Resistant TB Has Spread – All Regions of World Affected By New Strain - AIDS Has Potential to Fast Track XDR-TB

It is feared that an extremely dangerous and drug resistant strain of tuberculosis (TB) has spread across the border from South Africa into other countries. There were victims “all over the place… you can almost be sure there will be infection in Mozambique and even farther [abroad] because people travel”, according to Willem Sturm in a report from the Tribune News Service.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has expressed concern about the emergence of this virulent strain. In a press release they say the strain is virtually untreatable with existing drugs and they have called for the strengthening of prevention measures.

The Extensive Drug Resistant TB (XDR-TB) is resistant to not only the two main first-line TB drugs - isoniazid and rifampicin - but also to three or more of the six classes of second-line drugs.

The XCR-TB strain has been found in all regions of the world, but is most commonly found in the countries of the former Soviet Union and in Asia. The WHO press release said “XDR-TB poses a grave public health threat, especially in populations with high rates of HIV and where there are few health care resources."

The WHO recommends prompt diagnosis and treatment of drug resistant cases. The strain has killed 52 out of 53 patients identified with XDR-TB, and they died on average, within 25 days, including those benefiting from antiretroviral drugs.

The strain was first revealed last month in one district hospital in Johannesburg South Africa, according to a report from the Associate Press. Dr Karin Weyer of South Africa’s Medical Research Council (MRC) told a press conference that six cases of XDR TB were found in Gauteng several years ago, but research data were not compiled at the time.

Weyer adds “HIV has the potential to fast-track XDR-TB into an uncontrollable epidemic that we will not be able to manage or treat. Infection control precautions must be scaled up without delay in settings where HIV patients are brought together.”

International health experts have launched an emergency meeting in South Africa. Representatives from the US Centers for Disease Control and the WHO met on the 7th and 8th to plan ways to “prevent the global spread of the deadly TB strains.”

The WHO Guidelines for the Programmatic Management of Drug Resistant Tuberculosis include:
• strengthen basic TB care to prevent the emergence of drug-resistance
• ensure prompt diagnosis and treatment of drug resistant cases to cure existing cases and prevent further transmission
• increase collaboration between HIV and TB control programs to provide necessary prevention and care to co-infected patients
• increase investment in laboratory infrastructures to enable better detection and management of resistant cases.

By Marsha Quinn
Best Syndication

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