“[O]ften seen in the wealthy West as a disease of bygone eras,” Reuters examines rising rates of tuberculosis (TB) — drug-resistant TB in particular — among the world’s rich and poor. “[R]apidly rising rates of drug-resistant TB in some of the wealthiest cities in the world, as well as across Africa and Asia, are again making history,” Reuters writes. According to the news service, “London has been dubbed the ‘tuberculosis capital of Europe,’ and a startling recent study documenting new cases of so-called ‘totally drug-resistant’ TB in India suggests the modern-day tale of this disease could get a lot worse.”
As more bacteria become resistant to antibiotics, “common infections could become deadly, according to” WHO Director-General Margaret Chan, who spoke on Wednesday at a conference titled “Combating Antimicrobial Resistance: Time for Action” in Copenhagen, ABC News reports. “‘Some experts say we are moving back to the pre-antibiotic era. No. This will be a post-antibiotic era. In terms of new replacement antibiotics, the pipeline is virtually dry,’ said Chan. ‘A post-antibiotic era means, in effect, an end to modern medicine as we know it. Things as common as strep throat or a child’s scratched knee could once again kill,'” the news service notes (Moisse, 3/16).
“The Kenyan government’s recent failure to adequately treat a patient with extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) has some civil society organizations questioning whether the country’s TB program is equipped to diagnose and treat such patients,” PlusNews reports. “The government admits the TB program in Kenya has not been adequately funded despite the country’s big TB burden,” PlusNews writes, adding, “Kenya ranks 13th on the list of 22 high-burden TB countries in the world and has the fifth-highest burden in Africa.”
In an interview with Xinhua on Tuesday, Francis Adatu, head of the national leprosy and tuberculosis (TB) program in Uganda, warned that TB “remains a major public health problem” and that multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) has emerged in the country, the news service writes. “‘According to our prevalence survey we found MDR-TB in 1.3 percent among new cases and 12.3 percent among people who have been exposed to drugs or treated over and over again,’ Adatu said,” Xinhua writes, noting that Adatu said treatment for MDR-TB was much more expensive than for drug-susceptible TB.
Approximately 85,000 HIV-positive people in Burma, also known as Myanmar, are in need of antiretroviral treatment (ART) and cannot access it “due to a lack of funding, despite renewed international engagement with the government amid a wave of political reform, according to a report released Wednesday” by the medical aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), the Associated Press/CBS News reports (2/22). “At the launch of a new report called ‘Lives in the Balance,’ MSF said that only a quarter of the estimated 120,000 people living with HIV and AIDS were receiving treatment, and that it was turning people away from its clinics,” BBC News writes. While plans were made last year among MSF and its partners to scale up treatment for HIV and tuberculosis (TB), “those proposals were shelved after the Global Fund” to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria cancelled its Round 11 grants, according to the news agency. “The money was expected to provide HIV drugs for 46,500 people in Myanmar, along with treatment for another 10,000 people sicken[ed] by drug-resistant tuberculosis in the country, [the report] said,” BBC writes (Fisher, 2/22).
“[T]he highest levels ever of drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) have been found in Russia and Moldova,” the WHO reports in research published in the February edition of the WHO Bulletin, but “the agency didn’t have data from most of Africa and India, where tuberculosis rates are much higher,” the Associated Press/USA Today’s “Your Life” reports. According to the AP, the “experts reported that about 29 percent of new TB patients in parts of Russia were drug-resistant” and that “65 percent of previously treated patients in Moldova had resistance problems.” The news service notes, “Normally, less than five percent of TB cases are drug-resistant” (2/2).
This post in the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ “Smart Global Health” blog examines drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB), stating, “[S]ince the recent outbreak of the so-called totally drug-resistant tuberculosis (TDR-TB) in India, TB has a new face.” The blog details what TDR-TB is, recaps how resistant strains of TB develop and suggests several ways in which the global health community should respond (Kramer, 1/25).
This post in the Foreign Policy Association blog discusses reports from earlier this month of “an emerging strain of ‘totally drug-resistant’ tuberculosis (TDR-TB)” in India, which the Indian government last week denied, “arguing that the 12 cases were in fact extensively drug resistant (XDR).” The blog states, “Whether or not it’s fair to use the TDR moniker, drug resistance is a serious, emerging issue that may very well define the next stage of global health,” concluding, “We are reaching a turning point, one at which some drug resistant pathogens are on the cusp of shifting from a handful of cases, an endemic, to a bigger, epidemic or even pandemic problem. Now is the time to initiate discussions on what the global community will do to stem drug resistance” (Robinson, 1/21).
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).
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).