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Wednesday 26th June 2019

Deadly strain of TB found in South Africa

13th February 2013

Doctors have issued a stark warning about a deadly and “virtually untreatable” strain of tuberculosis.


They say the world could be hit by the drug-resistant form of the disease unless urgent action is taken.

Reports of the first cases of totally drug-resistant TB, in South Africa, were published in a new paper in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Emerging Infectious Diseases journal.

Clinics in South Africa have seen a dramatic rise in patients affected by the strain with the World Health Organisation concerned that conventional treatments would no longer have much impact.

In 2011, about 1.4 million people died worldwide from TB with the disease particularly prevalent in South Africa where many people have reduced immunity because of the high rates of HIV.

New treatments are being developed but experts say new drugs are needed now.

Karin Weyer, coordinator of the World Health Organisation’s Stop TB department on drug resistance, said: “It’s encouraging we have a few drugs in the pipeline, but we need several new ones, with new mechanisms of action, to protect against new resistances.”

The WHO warned as early as March 2010 that in some parts of the world a quarter of people were contracting a form of TB that could no longer be treated with standard drug regimens.

But the problem is not limited to South Africa – a New York hospital was hit by a multi-drug-resistant TB outbreak in the early 1990s where 29 people died and serious outbreaks have also been reported in Peru, Russia, and India during the last decade.


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