Tuesday, 10 October 2006

And you thought SARS was scary...

Europe is fighting its own superbug, drug-resistant tuberculosis. A new Stop TB Partnership has been launched in Europe to try to fight the disease.
Markku Niskala, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said the message for EU leaders was: "Wake up, do not delay, do not let this problem get further out of hand."

"The drug resistance that we are seeing now is without doubt the most alarming tuberculosis situation on the continent since World War II," he said.

The WHO has found high levels of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis in Baltic countries, Eastern Europe and central Asia.

Le Figaro reports that 70,000 people die of it yearly. OK, so how many SARS deaths did it take for the world to boycott Toronto? I assume TB is a little less contagious, because otherwise this makes no sense at all.

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3 comments:

Fern R said...

I am sure that once this story is widespread in the MSM that people will be frantically canceling their business trips to Eastern Europe as well.

isidora said...

TB is a great deal less contagious than other respiratory illnesses. A couple of years ago, I did some internet reasearch on TB, just because I was curious (ok, I'll admit that I'm weird.)

Around 1700, TB was the leading cause of death in Europe, responsible for one quarter of all deaths. Somewhere in my reading, I learned that an active case of TB today, left untreated, will infect something like 6-12 other people per year. The people most likely to be infected are family and co-workers, since it usually takes breathing the same air for extended periods to spread the infection.

There are lots of reasons you can be proud to be Canadian, but if you want one more, you should check out A Fight Against Tuberculosis in Canada. It turns out that Canada was a pioneer in the treatment and prevention of TB, taking TB from a top killer to being under control in a couple generations. They made an amazing amount of progess on reducing incidence even before antibiotics were available to actually cure it.

Of course, the problem that we've got today is that we are seeing an increasing number of cases of Multi-Drug Resistant TB, which are very difficult to cure.

Janet said...

Isidora, thank you very much for that well-informed comment. I'm not surprised that TB is less contagious than SARS; it was the only explanation that made sense.

And I am entirely in favour of benevolent weirdness.

 

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