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New fears arise over 'White Plague' - virulent form of tuberculosis that's drug resistant

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
5/29/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Tuberculosis usually associated with poverty conditions - overcrowding, lack of sanitation

Drug-resistant tuberculosis, or XDR-TB is a form of the airborne disease that thus far has been resistant to the four main groups of drugs used to treat it. Those stricken with this version of the disease must undergo treatment that can take years to cure, one that requires alternative drugs that have even more side effects.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
5/29/2014 (2 years ago)

Published in Health

Keywords: Tuberculosis, White Plague, drug-resistant, South Africa


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - An ancient disease, this version of TB was known as the "White Plague" in 18th century Europe. It remains extant and claims the lives of more than one million people a year globally.

Tuberculosis has been associated with the effects of poverty conditions. TB is usually bred wherever there is crowded housing, shared living space, poor ventilation, poor nutrition and poor healthcare systems. Under these conditions, the deadly condition can spread and thrive. 

Learn how you can help fight this deadly disease --

The White Plague is a complex disease with the potential to affect many parts of the body. Even worse, the condition can remain hidden and left undiagnosed. Many patients are unaware that they are infected. The main active form of the disease affects the lungs; if left untreated it can cause considerable lung damage, resulting in eventual death.

One South African patient, following repeated exposure, suffered extensive damage to his lungs. The disease has left him reliant on an oxygen tank as he receives his treatment from the non-governmental organization Doctors Without Borders. The organization plays a large role in treating TB in Khayelitsha, one of the largest townships in the country.

"Sometimes I ask myself, why me? Why did this have to happen again?" he says. Residing in Khayelitsha Township in Cape Town, South Africa, he adds that "the problem is I could have got it anywhere, on the bus, in a taxi, in my work. It's everywhere."

TB is everywhere in South Africa and is the leading cause of death. It's estimated that up to 80 percent of drug-resistant forms of the disease are now transmitted directly between people, rather than developing over time.

"The disease has reached a public health emergency in South Africa," Keertan Dheda, professor of medicine at the University of Cape Town says. "We treat half a million cases a year and today, the epidemic has taken a turn with drug resistance. We treat 8,000 cases of resistance a year and now a chunk of those have developed resistance beyond XDR-TB -- incurable TB."

Last year, there were 72 cases of drug-resistant TB in the United States. In 2012 there were 64,000 cases in India and 59,000 in China. The more people and the closer their proximity, the easier the disease spreads.

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