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Do We Know How To
Test, Treat Killer TB?

By Adriana Stuijt
Exclusive to Rense.com
The New York Times reports that 'in the escalating battle against extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis, conflicting findings from laboratory tests have hampered efforts to control the spread of the disease.'
Summarising this New York Times article, the gist of it is that thus far, even the best scientists in the world can't agree how to come up with quicker, more accurate tests for the increasingly drug- resistant tuberculosis strains - yet the clock is ticking as more and more patients are being reported worlwide as dying from TB because the usual line of drugs no longer work for them.
The World Health Organization says that of the 424,000 MDR tuberculosis cases that occur in the world each year, 25,000 are XDR, but the organization believes that fewer than 5 percent of resistant cases are even detected. The World Health Organisation has convened a panel trying to find a solution to the two main problems: the far too slow-testing speeds and reported inaccuracies in testing certain drug-resistant strains.
Multiple-drug resistant strains have been particularly deadly inroads on the South African population -- where it's taken on epidemic form particularly amongst that country's Aids-infected population, conservatively estimated at more than 6-million people. XDR-TB now has a proven mortality-rate of 95% and kills such patients within twenty days of infection, according to the latest government statistics. Multiple-Drug-Resistance cases, which can still be treated with some very specific, often very toxic drugs, has a mortality rate of around 52% according to the latest report from Medecins Sans Frontieres in southern Africa. This epidemic now is beginning to spread into Kenya and Lesotho. In Kenya, 200 people were identified with MDR-TB recently and that government has now launched a pilot treatment programme at the national hospital in Nairobi for 40 of these patients to try and stem the flow. It has also announced a policy of strict quarantine to try combat its spread - contrary to South Africa, where some government institutions still treat many of these highly infectious patients in outpatients instead of quarantining them.
In Lesotho - a tiny mountain kingdom surrounded by South Africa -- the international medical organisation Medecins sans Frontieres reports from the former mission station of Morija that four patients have been identified with MDR-TB recently. Two, both HIV+ have since died, one of whom had been a former patient at a TB- hospital in neighbouring South Africa who had reneged on treatment and gone home. The other two MDR-TB patients, both HIV-negative, are responding to treatment.
Read the entire article on:
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/24/health/24docs.html? ex=1186113600&en=6c72b21e965c768c&ei=5070


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