Super-TB Cases Hit Record High

WHO calls for urgent action
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 27, 2008 1:43 PM CST
A nurse attends to patients at a tuberculosis clinic in Gugulethu, Cape Town, South Africa, Friday, Nov. 9, 2007. South Africa reported 343,000 TB cases in 2006, of which an estimated 6,000 were multi-drug-resistant....   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis are at the highest levels disease experts have ever seen, warns the World Health Organization. A survey of 81 countries found that levels of multi-drug resistant TB and even hardier, almost untreatable TB were much higher than expected, reports the BBC. Urgent action is needed to avert a health catastrophe, the WHO cautioned.

The deadly strains of TB were especially prevalent in parts of the former Soviet Union, and experts fear a lack of data from parts of Africa means the hardy disease is spreading even faster than the survey found. "TB drug resistance needs a frontal assault," a WHO doctor urged. "If countries and the international community fail to address it aggressively now we will lose this battle."