Friday, January 15, 2010

More on Oswaldo Juarez

There's a post just below about Oswaldo Juarez, a Peruvian student in the United States who appears to be the first case of Extremely Drug Resistant Tuberculosis or XXDR-TB to be found in the US.

Reading a variety of news reports I found several interesting features of this case.

Juarez first checked into a hospital in Fort Lauderdale where he underwent three months of treatment with little effect. Then in December 2007 he was sent to and checked in voluntarily at AG Holley, just south of West Palm Beach in Florida, described by the AP as "the nation's last-standing TB sanitarium, a quarantine hospital that is now managing new and virulent forms of the disease.

The reassuring part is that they cured him but the process wasn’t easy. It took 19 months, and a drug regimen that left Juarez throwing up and thinking about suicide. At first his treatment was like chemotherapy: he was given drugs intravenously three times a day, and took 30 pills a day. He often had to take them several times because they made him nauseous and he would vomit them back up again. Juarez was given high doses of drugs, including some not normally used to treat TB.

His treatment cost $500,000.

Ashkin, one of the country's leading experts on TB, said only a handful of cases of XXDR-TB are known to have existed in the world.

"This is the new class that people are not really talking too much about," said Ashkin, who described Juarez's case as "the future" of drug resistant infections like TB and other killer diseases.

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