Web Zap*Germs Archive

April 25, 2005

The Trouble with Tuberculosis

With all the (justified) concern about antibiotic-resistant staph, it's easy to forget that tuberculosis is killing two million people each year around the world. And that's not just people living in places most Westerners haven't heard of. In fact, says a very informative article on RatLab, London "is now the TB capital of Europe...equivalent to...Russia, China and Brazil - countries that have some of the highest rates in the world."

Not only has the tuberculosis bacteria survived antibiotic attacks (reported earlier on Zap*Germs), it also goes into a hibernating state and waits for its host's immune system to wear down before becoming infective. Says RatLab:
Around one-third of the world’s population harbour a latent TB infection. This obviously represents a huge reservoir of potentially infectious bacteria and presents a major obstacle to any effort to eradicate the disease. It would be invaluable if we could develop drugs aimed at these persistent bacteria and effectively treat those with latent infections.


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