Study: Direct transmission drives drug-resistant TB epidemic
A study funded by the National Institute of Health and conducted by researchers from Emory University, CDC, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and the University of KwaZulu Natal in South Africa was published this week in The New England Journal of Medicine. According to it, person-to-person transmission is the main factor which drives the spread of drug-resistant TB ( XDR TB) in some countries with a high burden of the disease. XDR TB is resistant to at least four of the anti-TB drugs and has a mortality rate of more than 80% for patients with HIV and TB co-infection.
The study involved 404 XDR TB patients in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, a country that is experiencing a widespread epidemic of XDR TB. After examining those patients and epidemiological analysis, the researchers concluded that 69 percent of the cases in high HIV and high TB-burden settings in South Africa occurred due to person-to-person transmission rather than inadequate TB treatment.
“These findings are further proof that we need to better detect, prevent, diagnose, and treat drug-resistant TB. TB resistant to last-resort drugs is spreading through hospitals and homes, at work, and in other places in this high burden community. The only way to stop this disease is by improving infection control and rapidly finding and effectively treating people with TB,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H.