With the current media buzz about XDR TB (extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis), a few brief facts from my Jan 22 2007 IPS article may offer some perspective about this serious health issue:
* South Africa’s international tourism boom and global trade and transport systems, the XDR-TB outbreak represents “a potentially explosive international health crisis”
* “The problem is a lot bigger than we know….I wouldn’t be surprised if it has spread to all the surrounding countries,” said Jerome Amir Singh, an HIV/AIDS expert at the Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban.
* Strains of drug-resistant TB first arose in the former Soviet bloc countries in the 1990s as a result of incomplete drug treatment regimes and deteriorating health care systems.
* About one-third of the world’s population carries the TB bacterium in their bodies
See also this update from India: High incidence of drug-resistant TB found in India