Health Experts Need To Ensure That XDR-TB Does Not Spread Among People With Compromised Immune Systems, Including HIV-Positive People, WHO Official Says
Health experts need to contain the spread of extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis, TB that is resistant to the two most potent first-line treatments and some of the available second-line drugs, so that it does not spread among people with compromised immune systems, Mario Raviglione, head of the World Health Organization's Stop TB Department, said recently, Reuters reports. According to Raviglione, XDR-TB could trigger a wave of deaths among people living with HIV/AIDS, who are more vulnerable to the disease, given the difficulty in treating the strain. "Either we intervene rapidly to stop the spread of this strain or you could foresee in the future that this strain would replace the other one," Raviglione said, adding, "That would make it practically uncontrollable." He said enhanced diagnostic tools and better health care practices, such as isolation rooms for people with XDR-TB, are crucial to curbing the spread of the disease. He also said that because it might be five years before new drugs to successfully treat XDR-TB are available, countries need to improve their laboratory capacities to rapidly detect drug-resistant TB strains. "In South Africa they are capable, that is why they discovered it," Raviglione said, adding, "But we don't know what's happening in Mozambique and Lesotho, in Swaziland, in Zimbabwe." He added that the strain could be widespread in Southern Africa (MacInnis, Reuters, 3/6).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.