As you are probably aware, Tuberculosis is caused by a bacterium, Mycobacterium tuberculosis which usually affects the lungs however, TB is curable and preventable. Persons most at risk are individuals with compromised immune systems, such as people living with HIV also, malnutrition, poor sanitation and high tobacco use. The largest number of new TB cases occurs in Sub-Saharan Africa. However, it is important to note, that a large percentage of cases reported are in developing countries.
“The 22 countries listed below accounts for 80% of the TB cases in the world
Alphabetical List of Countries:
17. South Africa
For information about the epidemiology of TB, and about global TB control (especially the 22 high TB-burden countries) go to the World Health Organization (WHO); Global TB database.”
The most common symptoms of active TB are cough, chest pains, fatigue, weight loss, fever and night sweats. All age groups are at risk for developing TB but young adults are most likely to be affected and children are the most difficult to diagnose.
It has been over four decades since any new drugs for TB have been developed. The two first-line drugs utilized are isoniazid (INH) and rifampicin (RMP) but multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is a critical/serious issue. “Drug-resistant TB usually emerges when patients fail to follow treatment regimens, which takes six to eight months and use a cocktail of drugs, or stop treatment too soon. Some patients stop taking medicine after one or two months of treatment, when the coughing stops and the symptoms are gone, but the bacteria are not eliminated and the symptoms will come back. When the TB bacterium is not fully eliminated, it can mutate, re-emerging later as a strain resistant to the small range of drugs able to fight the disease.” The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) panel recommended approval of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Research & Development division drug, Bedaquiline which appears to be safe and effective. Also, AstraZeneca recently started a clinical trial in South Africa to treat patients who have drug-resistant strains of TB.
The millennium goal is to reach a 50 percent reduction in morality due to Tuberculosis by 2015; the news about the prevalence of TB is not all bad, the death rate has been falling