Tuberculosis

Updated 07 February 2017

SHOCKING: Several TB strains now incurable, say local researchers

The rise of drug-resistant tuberculosis has taken a new, horrifying turn.

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According to scientists, as a result of patients not finishing their treatments for tuberculosis (TB), several strains of the disease have become not just drug-resistant, but incurable! 

A study from the University of Cape Town says that “while various strains of TB, with varying degrees of resistance to drugs, have wreaked havoc on South Africans, a new strain of TB has been found to be simply incurable”.

Read: World Health Day: SA's TB-Diabetes bomb

The research was published in Lancet Respiratory Medicine and doctors tracked more than 237 patients with extensive drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB).

Lead author, Professor Keertan Dheda, says that incurable TB has now surpassed XDR-TB as the most robust bug. Of the patients who took part in the study, 203 had programmatically incurable TB and “unfavourable outcomes".

“The emergence of programmatically incurable tuberculosis threatens to destabilise control efforts,” the study found.

Read:  MDR-TB treatment comes closer, but not close enough

Dheda said this underscores the need to address poverty and overcrowding, and the HIV epidemic in Africa and globally “so that tuberculosis on the whole, and hence the burden of drug-resistant TB, can be minimised.

“Urgent action, including appropriate containment strategies, is needed to address this situation.”

TB is now the commonest cause of death in SA, and incurable TB cases have been documented in several countries, including India, China, Russia and Eastern Europe.

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