UK Faces Growing Threat of Drug Resistant Tuberculosis

Article published on 8th May 2008

Having examined nearly 30,000 people infected with TB in England, Wales and Northern Ireland over the last seven years, the Health Protection Agency found a 2.3% rise (from 5.6% to 7.9%) in the proportion of drug resistant cases of the illness particularly the drug isoniazid. The British Medical Journal has cited similar findings.

Many sufferers of drug resistant TB have been identified as coming from the Indian subcontinent and sub-Saharan Africa, where it is believed they must have developed an immunity to the relevant medications.

Cases are particularly apparent amongst prisoners and drug users, and the researchers have criticised the control measures in place to counter outbreaks amongst these groups as being unacceptable.

Indeed, the research group claimed that the short-falling in the existing system are demonstrated by the fact that an outbreak of drug resistant TB that began 9 years ago in London (in certain prisons and amongst drug users) are still producing new cases to this day.

Although cases of drug resistant TB have almost doubled over the last 7 years, these numbers still only represent a small minority of people within the UK and within the total number of infections.

Although there is no reason to be complacent about the rise of and in drug resistant TB, Dr. James Lewis of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said in an interview with the BBC: "Given the population size of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, multi-drug resistant TB is still rare and remains the exception."

Source: BBC

Source: WHO

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