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Case Of Immigrant With XDR-TB Shows Global Vulnerability To Infectious Diseases, Wall Street Journal Reports

The Wall Street Journal profiles the case of a man infected with extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) who is being detained in South Texas after a “three-month odyssey through 13 countries — from his homeland of Nepal through South Asia, Brazil, Mexico, and finally into Texas — show[ing] the way in which dangerous new strains of the disease can migrate across the world unchecked.” The newspaper notes, “In recent months the Wall Street Journal has exposed widening TB drug resistance in hot spots like India, and shown that the U.S. is surprisingly unprepared for the growing global problem,” adding, “Most U.S. cases of drug-resistant TB occur in people who were born abroad, according to the [CDC].”

While only six XDR-TB cases were reported in the U.S. in 2011, “it is a growing threat in countries including India and South Africa, where it has been found all over the country,” the Wall Street Journal writes, adding, “The risk to the world is that the disease will migrate outward from these hot spots.” The newspaper notes, “The WHO’s Stop TB Department said it is working with the CDC to inform affected countries about people who may have been exposed to the man” (McKay, 3/1). In a statement released in response to the article, the non-governmental organization RESULTS said, “The case described in the Wall Street Journal demonstrates the value and importance of a strong, well-funded U.S. public health system that can detect outbreaks of deadly diseases and respond quickly. … If we don’t act now to address TB globally, it will cost us far more in lives and dollars in the long run” (3/2).