Friday, February 15, 2013


‘Totally drug-resistant’ tuberculosis spreads in South Africa as researchers warn global outbreak would be ‘untreatable’
The world is facing outbreaks of “totally drug-resistant” tuberculosis if explosions of the bacteria in South Africa and other poorer nations are not addressed, according to a new papers published in Emerging Infectious Diseases. At this point, researchers are working to determine how the bacteria gains its invincibility, and how to isolate it.

Like the situation in India the argument over whether the South African strains are 'extensively drug-resistant or 'totally' drug resistant is beside the point. Extensively drug resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) is already a big enough problem. Here are some statistics from an earlier post comparing different strains of TB.

Tuberculosis (TB)
  • Cost of drug treatment: $10-$20
  • Course of treatment: 6 months
  • Side effects of treatment: generally minor but may include vomiting, nausea and loss of appetite.
Multi-drug-resistant Tuberculosis (MDR-TB)
  • Cost of drug treatment: up to $5,000 - $20,000
  • Course of treatment: 2 years
  • Side effects of treatment: side-effects are more serious and include hepatitis, depression and hallucinations.
Extensively drug-resistant Tuberculosis (XDR-TB)
  • Cost of drug treatment: cases have been dealt with individually - some have cost $500,000
  • Course of treatment: as long as it takes, many patients die
  • Side effects of treatment: severe, in South Africa many patients discontinued treatment stating that they would rather die.

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