Drug-Resistant TB Remains a Worldwide Threat

WHO survey finds multidrug-resistant TB hot spots in China and former Soviet Union countries
By Jeff Muise
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, April 16 (HealthDay News) -- Drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) remains a serious worldwide problem with the median prevalence of multidrug-resistant strains of TB as high as one in five new cases in some hot spots, according to the results of a survey by the World Health Organization reported in the April 16 online edition of The Lancet.

Abigail Wright, of the Stop TB Department of the World Health Organization, and colleagues examined data on 90,726 TB cases from 83 countries and territories collected between 2002 and 2007 to determine the prevalence of drug-resistant TB.

Overall, resistance to any drug in new TB cases had a median prevalence of 11.1 percent worldwide, the researchers report. The survey found hot spots for multidrug resistance in the countries of the former Soviet Union, where the resistance in new TB cases had a median prevalence ranging from 6.8 percent to 22.3 percent. Among the worst sites for multidrug-resistant cases were China with two provinces with median prevalence of 7 percent, Moldova with 19.4 percent, and Azerbaijan with 22.3 percent. Some 37 countries and territories worldwide also reported extensively drug-resistant TB, the most resistant strain, with five former Soviet Union countries reporting 25 cases or more.

"Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis remains a threat to tuberculosis control in provinces in China and countries of the former Soviet Union. Data on drug resistance are unavailable in many countries, especially in Africa, emphasizing the need to develop easier methods for surveillance of resistance in tuberculosis," the authors write.

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