MDR-TB rises in China and ex-USSR21st April 2009
Multi-resistant forms of tuberculosis are on the rise in the former Soviet Union and China, with up to 22% of new infections in Azerbaijan now no longer treatable with standard drugs.
A new study in The Lancet shows that dangerous tuberculosis strains are thriving across the region, compared with high-income countries, where only 1% of tuberculosis infections cannot be treated with two or more front-line drugs.
Experts with the World Health Organisation (WHO) say 19% of tuberculosis infections are multi-drug resistant (MDR-TB), with especially high rates in former Soviet Azerbaijan, Moldova, Estonia and Latvia.
Meanwhile, multi-drug resistance rates of 7% were seen in two provinces of China, a rate nearly double that seen in neighbouring southeast Asia. The rates compared with multi-drug resistance of 3% in Latin America and 2% in Africa.
Researchers said the former Soviet Union and China now had the highest levels of TB resistance in the world.
They warned of a serious and widespread epidemic with the highest prevalence of MDR-TB ever reported, basing their conclusions on data from more than 90,000 patients collected between 2002 and 2007 around the world.
Drug shortages during the Soviet era and in its immediate aftermath are thought to be to blame.
Of a global, annual total of 9 million new tuberculosis infections, around 490,000 are multiple-drug resistant, WHO said.
Experts have called for better tests to identify exactly which strains of TB people have, so as to use the correct treatment regime and prevent the spread of drug-resistance.
Meanwhile, Russian health authorities have confirmed that a woman who recently died on a train en route to Moscow did not have Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, also known as SARS.
The woman, who was from mainland China, boarded the train in the border town of Blagoveshchensk and then died suddenly.
Health officials in Russia quarantined 53 people immediately after her death.
Some began to speculate that she may have died of SARS, a disease that spread worldwide and killed at least 774 people between the years of 2002 and 2003.
Sari Setiogi, spokesman for the WHO said that samples had been taken from the woman and her contacts.
Though the WHO could not confirm the woman's age, officials are working with Russian authorities to monitor the progress of research.
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Title: MDR-TB rises in China and ex-USSR
Author: Luisetta Mudie
Article Id: 11016
Date Added: 21st Apr 2009