Monday, December 25, 2006

Drug-resistant tuberculosis is more widespread than previously thought

Voice of America: A new study by the World Health Organization has found drug-resistant tuberculosis in virtually all of the 79 countries the organization surveyed around the world, with particularly high levels in countries of the former Soviet Union and some Chinese provinces. VOA's Jessica Berman reports.

About one third of the world's population is infected with the bacterium that causes tuberculosis and, every year, nine million people become contagious.But misuse of two, potent antibiotics, izoniazid and rifampacin, has made them ineffective in treating the disease, causing multi-drug resistance, or MDR-TB.

The WHO estimates that in 2004, one-point-seven million people died of TB, many of whom could not be cured with either antibiotic.Ten years ago, the world body began a project to study TB drug resistance around the globe.

In their latest report, investigators identified the emergence of more than 400-thousand new cases of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis in the 79 nations it surveyed, making up about one percent of new TB cases in each country.

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