Drug-resistant TB on the Rise in Europe, WHO Says

Multiple drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis are spreading at an “alarming rate” in Europe, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday.

Tuberculosis, or TB, is a common and in many cases lethal bacterial infection that attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body. Being that the disease is spread through the air, affected victims often unknowingly pass the infection on through coughs or sneezes.

The WHO estimates there are 81,000 cases of drug-resistant TB a year in Europe, although many countries are failing to diagnose it.

“Nobody in Europe is 100 per cent protected from drug-resistant tuberculosis,” said Ogtay Gozalov, a medical officer at the WHO.

To combat the disease, the organization has introduced a $5-billion plan which is projected to save about 120,000 lives and $12 billion worth of diagnosis and treatment expenses by 2015.

The plan, which aims to diagnose 85 percent of all patients and to treat at least 75 percent of them by the end of 2015, emphasizes the need for doctors and patients to be more aware of the disease and its symptoms, to diagnose and treat cases promptly with the right drugs, and follow patients up over many months or years to ensure they take their medications.

“If that doesn’t happen “not only are these people quietly and painfully dying, they are also spreading the disease,” Lucica Ditiu, executive secretary of the Stop TB Partnership told a news conference in London.

Currently, about 32 per cent of patients with drug-resistant TB in Western Europe receive proper treatment; many stop taking their medicines before the treatment course is up, allowing the bug to develop resistance.

Countries outside of Europe with the highest rates of drug-resistant forms of TB in new patients are: Azerbaijan, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine.

via Fox News