MDR-TB At ‘Epidemic’ Levels in Parts of Former Soviet Union, China, Study Says
Multi-drug resistant tuberculosis has reached "epidemic" levels in many parts of the former Soviet Union and is also widespread in a number of provinces in China, according to a study published online Thursday in the journal Lancet, AFP/Google.com reports (AFP/Google.com, 4/15). This is the fourth round of data from the Global Project on Anti-Tuberculosis Drug Resistance (World Health Organization release, 4/15).
Researchers examined data from between 2002 and 2007 for more than 90,000 people in 83 countries. They found that of the approximately nine million new cases of TB each year, about one in nine failed to respond to at least one first-line TB drug. Since 2006, there has been more than half a million new cases of MDR-TB, according to the study. Half of the new cases were in China and India.
In nine former Soviet Union countries, MDR-TB rates were between seven and 22%, including 19% in Moldova and 22% in Baku, Azerbaijan. In Eastern Europe, almost one-fifth of all TB cases were drug-resistant (AFP/Google.com, 4/15).
Two Chinese provinces had MDR-TB rates of seven percent, which is almost double the regional rate in Southeast Asia and significantly higher than Africa's two percent and Latin America's rate of 3 percent (MacInnis, Reuters, 4/15).
The study identified cases of extensively drug-resistant TB in 37 countries. Five former Soviet states-Azerbaijan, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and the Russian Federation-had more than 25 cases of the disease (AFP/Google.com, 4/15).
According to the study authors, "The countries of the former Soviet Union are facing a serious and widespread epidemic with the highest prevalence of MDR-TB ever reported in 13 years of global data collection." In the conclusion, hey write that the "world is far behind the targets for MDR-TB diagnosis and management set out in the second Global Plan to Stop TB 2006" (World Health Organization release, 4/15).
Better tests to identify different strains of TB are needed to thwart the spread of drug-resistant TB, according to the authors (Reuters, 4/15). The Lancet published a related opinion piece that examines the development of rapid diagnostic tests and TB drugs (World Health Organization release, 4/15).