Red Alert for New Strains of Killer TB (tuberculosis)
A new strain of drug resistant TB, called XDR-TB, is threatening to spread across the globe. Cases have been reported from the US, Eastern Europe and parts of Africa, said the WHO (World Health Organisation) while sounding a warning regarding this. TB drugs currently used are 50 years old, as drug companies of the developed countries have not bothered to invest in research to develop these, since the disease was perceived to be associated with poorer, developing countries. In the US, a third of those diagnosed with the disease – 21persons – have died, as announced by their Centre for Disease Control in March this year. The disease can easily spread in confined spaces like aircraft. There are 9 million cases of TB worldwide, and it is estimated that 2% of these (180,000) are the untreatable XDR variety. Last week TB experts, in an emergency meet in Johanessburg, South Africa, discussed the measures to be taken to tackle this menace. The spread of the XDR- TB gravely threatens the chances of putting an end to the aids pandemic in Africa.