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Blog Interviews UCLA Professor About Highly Drug-Resistant TB

The Los Angeles Times’ “Booster Shots” blog features an interview with Otto Yang, a professor at the Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, who speaks about drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) and the implications of a highly drug-resistant strain found in India. Yang said, “Obviously [the drug-resistant TB] could be devastating if it spreads, because treatment options are so limited. So far it seems not to have been as contagious as other strains, possibly because the mutations required to make it drug-resistant also make it a little less virulent” (Brown, 1/18).

Indian, WHO Officials To Meet To Discuss Managing Cases Of Highly Drug-Resistant TB

Health officials from India and the WHO are scheduled to meet in Mumbai on Tuesday to discuss how to manage the cases of at least 12 patients infected with a highly drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) strain, Bloomberg reports (Narayan, 1/17). “The ‘totally drug-resistant’ tuberculosis (TDR-TB) reportedly emerging in India is actually an advanced stage of drug-resistant TB, which researchers called totally drug-resistant for lack of a better term,” IRIN notes (1/17).

Counterfeit, Substandard Drugs Threaten Progress In Controlling Malaria In Africa, Researchers Report

“Hopes of controlling malaria in Africa could be wrecked by criminals who are circulating counterfeit and substandard drugs, threatening millions of lives, scientists” said in a study published in the Malaria Journal last month, the Guardian reports. “They are calling for public health authorities to take urgent action to preserve the efficacy of the antimalarials now being used in the worst-hit areas of the continent,” the newspaper adds (Boseley, 1/16). “The counterfeit medicines could harm patients and promote drug resistance among malaria parasites, warns the study, funded by the Wellcome Trust,” BBC News writes (1/16).

Malaria Mortality Rates Down, But Progress Threatened By Funding Shortfall, WHO Report Says

“Malaria mortality rates have fallen by more than 25 percent globally since 2000, and by 33 percent in the WHO African Region, according to the World Malaria Report 2011, issued [Tuesday] by [the] WHO,” the organization reports in a press release. “This is the result of a significant scaling-up of malaria prevention and control measures in the last decade,” the press release adds. However, the press release notes, “WHO warns that a projected shortfall in funding threatens the fragile gains and that the double challenge of emerging drug and insecticide resistance needs to be proactively addressed” (12/13).

Fake, Poor-Quality Drugs Boosting Malaria Drug Resistance In Southeast Asia, U.S. Experts Say

“Fake or poor quality malaria drugs are boosting resistance in parts of southeast Asia, a problem that is likely to worsen unless tighter regulations are adopted, U.S. experts said Monday” at a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights, Agence France-Presse reports. “‘Drug resistance to the most effective drug available, artemisinin-based combination therapy, is developing and has been recognized in southeast Asia,'” Regina Rabinovich, director of infectious diseases at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said, according to the news service.

Multi-Drug Resistant Bacteria Widespread In Europe, Report Says

Multi-drug resistant bacteria “are increasing their grip in Europe with rates of drug resistance in one type of bacteria reaching 50 percent in the worst-hit countries, health officials said Thursday,” Reuters reports. “In a report [.pdf] on multi-drug resistant bacteria, … the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), which monitors disease across the European Union, said the need to combat resistance was ‘critical,'” the news agency writes, adding, “To a large extent, antibiotic resistance is driven by the misuse and overuse of antibiotics, which encourages bacteria to develop new ways of overcoming them” (Kelland, 11/17).

Annual European CDC Report Says Infectious Diseases, Drug Resistance Are Concerns

“Europe’s health is suffering, with around 80,000 cases of tuberculosis infection a year and serious problems with measles, HIV and threats from ‘superbug’ infections, an annual health report” from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said Thursday, Reuters reports. The report said infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance, especially multi-drug resistance, are major concerns, according to the news service. The “report also identified several emergent diseases in Europe it said might pose a risk to public health,” including West Nile virus, malaria, dengue fever and chikungunya, Reuters notes.

PlusNews Interviews Stop TB Director Mario Raviglione

At the recent International Lung Health Conference in Lille, France, IRIN/PlusNews spoke with Stop TB Director Mario Raviglione about the threat of drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB), its treatment and “the precarious TB funding gap,” the news service writes. In the interview, Raviglione discusses the Directly Observed Treatment Short course (DOTS) approach to TB treatment, the issue of second-line TB drugs, and the future of TB funding, among other issues (10/31).

Much Work Remains To Be Done In Fight Against Malaria

Positive results announced this week from a large clinical trial testing the efficacy of the RTS,S malaria vaccine are “encouraging,” but they are also “a reminder of how much work remains to be done,” an Economist editorial reports. The WHO abandoned its first efforts to eradicate the disease 14 years after setting out to do so in 1955, but “a new wave of enthusiasm,” beginning in 1998 with the establishment of the Roll Back Malaria partnership and culminating with Bill Gates’s call for malaria eradication four years ago, “has helped to lower the number of malaria deaths by 20 percent over the past decade,” the editorial states.

Evidence Suggests Mosquitos In Kenya Have Developed Chemical Resistance, KEMRI Official Says

Speaking at a national malaria forum in Nairobi on Monday, Charles Mbogo of the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) presented new evidence showing that malaria-causing mosquitos in Kenya have developed resistance to the most common chemicals derived from pyrethroids and DDT, which “could be a major blow to the country’s strategy to eradicate malaria by 2017,” Nigeria’s the Nation reports. “This new development comes at a time most parts of the country, especially the coastal region, have been recording a significant drop in malaria deaths,” the newspaper writes.