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MSF Warns MDR-TB Is More Widespread Than Previously Thought

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) says the spread of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) — “a form of tuberculosis that does not respond to standard treatment and can kill in a matter of months” — “is much greater than previously thought,” VOA News reports. “‘Wherever we’re looking for drug-resistant TB we’re finding it in very alarming numbers. And that suggests to us that the current statistics that are being published about the prevalence of MDR-TB are really just scratching the surface of the problem,’ said Dr. Leslie Shanks, medical director for the group,” the news service writes (DeCapua, 3/21).

“Multidrug-resistant strains of the disease have evolved, sometimes because patients have not been given a full six months course of treatment for their regular TB,” the Guardian’s “Global Health Blog” reports, noting, “MDR-TB can take as long as two years to treat and the antibiotics needed are not available in the poorest countries.” The blog provides statistics about TB in India, Myanmar, South Africa and Uzbekistan and notes “that a new trial has been launched by TB Alliance of two drugs taken in combination” with the aim of “shorten[ing] the treatment from six months to four months in not only ordinary TB but also some forms of drug-resistant TB” (Boseley, 3/21).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.