WHO Warns Drug-Resistant TB Spreading In Europe At 'Alarming' Rate, Releases Plan To Fight Disease

Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) and extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) “are spreading at an alarming rate in Europe and will kill thousands unless health authorities halt the pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday” during the launch of “a new regional plan to find, diagnose and treat cases of the airborne infectious disease more effectively,” Reuters reports. “The WHO said that if the plan is fully implemented — at an estimated cost of $5 billion — 127,000 people will be successfully treated for drug-resistant TB and 120,000 deaths will be averted by 2015,” according to the news agency (Kelland, 9/13).

“Eastern Europe has the highest level of infection, while in Western Europe, London has the highest TB rate of any capital city. The WHO estimates there are 81,000 cases of drug-resistant TB a year in Europe, although many countries are failing to diagnose it,” BBC News writes (Dreaper, 9/13). “WHO says that in Western Europe treatment fails in 23 percent of patients, 26 percent are lost to follow-up, 19 percent die, and only 32 percent are successfully treated,” according to BMJ (Mozynski, 9/14). “Rising immigration from infected areas has contributed to the rise of TB in Europe, but the WHO warned against complacency among the native populations,” Agence France-Presse notes (9/13).