End Times News Update
Sign: Pestilence
Scripture: Luke 21:11
News Source: My Way News
In China, 1 in 10 TB cases are drug-resistant

Jun 7, 5:39 AM (ET)

BEIJING (AP) – One in 10 cases of tuberculosis in China cannot be
treated by the most commonly-used drugs, driven by a lack of testing
and misuse of medicine, according to a national survey that showed for
the first time the size of the drug-resistant epidemic.

Researchers say the findings from the 2007 survey on drug-resistant
TB, published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, show
that the government must invest more in public health services to
better diagnose drug-resistant strains of the killer lung disease.
Hospitals must also be prevented from routinely misusing drugs that
worsen the problem, they say.

“For the first time, we have a representative, national survey of this
problem in China. It shows that this is pretty serious,” said Dr.
Daniel Chin, a TB expert at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in
Beijing who is one of the study’s authors. “One in 10, by any standard
globally, would be pretty high.”

The proportion of drug-resistant TB found in the survey was in line
with previous estimates that were based on provincial studies, the
researchers said. While the survey was done in 2007, the researchers
said it took time to culture and test samples from each patient.

The ancient and treatable lung disease is caused by germs that spread
when a person with active TB coughs, sneezes or speaks. It has in
recent years evolved into stronger forms: drug-resistant TB, which
does not respond to two top drugs, and extensively drug-resistant TB,
which is virtually untreatable. A handful of what’s been unofficially
dubbed ‘totally drug-resistant’ cases have also been identified, most
recently in India.

TB is usually cured in six to nine months with a mixture of four
antibiotics, but if that treatment is interrupted or the dose reduced,
the bacteria mutate into a tougher strain that can no longer be killed
by standard drugs. The drug-resistant form takes up to two years and
thousands of dollars to treat.

The survey conducted by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and
Prevention, or China CDC, also showed that 8 percent of patients with
drug-resistant TB were actually extensively drug-resistant cases. The
survey’s researchers tested 4,000 TB patients recruited through local
TB clinics over nine months.

In 2007, an estimated 110,000 cases of drug-resistant TB and 8,200
extensively drug-resistant cases developed, making it the largest
annual number of new drug-resistant cases in the world, the study

“This is a very grave situation because we don’t have any new drugs to
treat the patients with,” said Dr. Wang Yu, director of the China CDC
and another author of the study. “It is a problem that the whole world
is facing… and over time, it will only increase.”

The urgent need for new TB treatments has prompted drugmakers to open
their research vaults and labs to scientists, and a number of new
candidates are being developed.

In the past decade, China made marked progress in fighting
tuberculosis, which until recent years was the most fatal infectious
disease. But many state-run TB facilities still don’t have the
resources to test patients for drug-resistant strains in order to give
them the right drugs, and many are also unable to track every patient
to ensure that drug regimens are closely followed.

The survey also showed that patients who were last treated in a
tuberculosis hospital were 13 times as likely to have drug-resistant
TB as those who had been treated elsewhere. They likely became
infected in the hospitals or were given the wrong drugs. The overuse
and misuse of antibiotics is very common in China because it is a way
for underfunded hospitals to boost revenue through drug sales.

“The hospital is clearly a major culprit in this, even what we call
tuberculosis hospitals which are supposed to be specialized in the
treatment of drug-resistant TB, they are actually perhaps, as this
study has implicated, contributing to drug-resistant TB,” said Chin,
who is also deputy director of programs at the Gates Foundation in

China’s rate of drug-resistant TB cases is lower than in some Eastern
European countries, but the absolute number of cases, given the
country’s large population, is high – similar to that of India, said
Dr. Fabio Scano, World Health Organization’s Stop TB officer in
Beijing, who was not involved in the study.

Follow Gillian Wong on Twitter at http://twitter.com/gillianwong

Source: My Way News

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