Monday, March 26, 2007

TB variety now totally resistant to antibiotics

TB breaks free of antibiotic control ($) NewScientist March 24th 2007 Edition

NewScientist has a good editorial about how the world has ignored diseases in the developing world esp. TB - with the result being that strains of this incredibly deadly disease is now mostly, or totally resistant to all medicine. The larger lesson as they make very clear is - ignore the poor countries and their welfare at your peril. Chances are if a pandemic hits, of any disease, it will mainly be the result of our profound stupidity... not a bolt from the blue.

Here are some key points.

"REMEMBER when lots of people died of ordinary bacterial infections? Probably not, unless you were around before the 1950s. That's when antibiotics stopped the rot, at least for the world's better-off...The bad news is those days are returning. Tuberculosis has broken free of antibiotic control, a fact that could affect us all...Last year it erupted in 9 million people and killed 1.6 million, putting it among the world's biggest causes of death...TB has thrived in the mushrooming urban slums of poor countries and grown among poor communities in rich countries as those nations dismantled public health systems designed to eradicate TB...Now, some strains - known as extremely drug-resistant, or XDR - have shrugged off many of the remaining anti-TB drugs. This week we report the arrival of CDR, or completely drug-resistant, TB (see "The white plague"). Doctors cannot hammer these bacteria with new drugs or vaccines because no companies have developed any. There are few profits in diseases of the poor...TB resistant to one or two drugs grew from a few cases in the 1990s to one-fifth of cases today. XDR-TB is likely to do the same. It is now poised to rip through the millions of African people who have HIV...We thought we had beaten TB. Now it is back and we are almost defenceless. On every level this is because the world neglects diseases of the poor."

We spend billions on bogus wars and waste hundreds of millions on bogus security but when it comes to potential pandemics we spend hardly a thing? Genius. Vote out any politician that doesn't understand.

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