The world is facing outbreaks of “totally drug-resistant” tuberculosis if explosions of the bacteria in South Africa and other poorer nations are not addressed, according to a new papers published in Emerging Infectious Diseases. At this point, researchers are working to determine how the bacteria gains its invincibility, and how to isolate it.
Fears are mounting in medical communities worldwide that conventional treatments would be useless against the new disease, The Daily Mail‘s health site reports. They say doctors are warning “the world is on the brink of an outbreak of a deadly and ‘virtually untreatable' strain of drug resistant tuberculosis unless immediate action is taken.” Fears of a repeat of the 1980s outbreak in New York City that killed 90% of the people who contracted the TB strain are being cited by those urging action in poorer countries where the disease is spiralling out of control.
A dire warning of the coming dangers of a world without functioning antibiotics has been levelled by professor Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer of England.
Routine operations may in the near future become life-threatening ordeals without the protection of antibiotics to ward off increasingly powerful hospital borne bacteria, Davies told a committee of British MPs.
“It is clear that we might not ever see global warming,” she said. “The apocalyptic scenario is that when I need a new hip in 20 years I'll die from a routine infection because we've run out of antibiotics.”
Researchers writing in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control journal warned in two new studies that the further outbreaks of drug resistant tuberculosis could devastate populations and economies of developing nations, particularly in the drug-resistant strain's ground zero regions, such as in South Africa. Recent reports from 2012, however, drive home the importance of isolating drug-resistant TB,since the disease has also been popping up increasingly in wealthier Western cities such as London, where, of course, it can attack rich and poor indiscriminately.
One study, which is monitoring the high death rates among South African patients infected with the resistant TB and HIV, noted that: “Drug-resistant tuberculosis is a critical threat to TB control and global public health.”
Researchers are advocating the use of more specific screening tests so as to more easily isolate patients suffering from the virtually untreatable strain of TB
Another study, examining the rise of the drug-resistant strains of TB as they move through populations in South Africa found that “factors driving the increase in drug-resistant tuberculosis are not understood.” Researchers caution that, at this point, with mortality rates among some groups at more than 50%, containment is the goal, and they advocate the use of more specific screening tests so as to more easily isolate patients suffering from the virtually untreatable strain of TB. The authors of a 2008 study on HIV and TB had demonstrated that the spread of these strains was facilitated by HIV co-infection, raising particular concern for the spread of drug-resistant strains in vulnerable populations.
Drug-resistant gonorrhea has reached North America for the first time: Ontario MDs
The last oral antibiotic used to treat gonorrhea failed to cure the infection in about 7% of tested cases in a study in Toronto, a figure the authors of the work called “relatively high.”
The report, published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, is believed to be the first from North America of treatment failure with the antibiotic, cefixime. And it is the latest reminder that in the battle with this sexually transmitted infection, the bug is winning ,” and fast.
It raises concerns that convenient approaches for treating gonorrhea may soon be out of reach ,” a development that could lead to fewer people undergoing successful treatment for the infection.
The lead author, Dr. Vanessa Allen, said Ontario is mulling over following the lead of the United States and Europe and recommending that doctors routinely treat gonorrhea with an injectable antibiotic rather than the current pill.
But she said there has been pushback from clinicians, who fear there will be consequences of making treatment more onerous.