Alarming levels of extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis have been found around the world. A new study says the findings signal an urgent need for improved testing and the development of better drugs to fight the deadly lung infection.
Researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tested samples from more than 1,200 TB patients from eight countries who were classified as having multi-drug resistant tuberculosis. The infection was resistant to one or both of the older, first-line drugs, rifampacin and isoniazid.
But investigators found 6.7 percent of the patients were infected with extensively drug resistant TB, known as XDR. The XDR-TB patients did not respond to a regimen that included the first-line treatments, and quinolone drugs and newer injectable drugs.
Investigator Tracy Dalton, of the CDC’s Division of TB Elimination, led the study. “So, what this presents is a really worrying trend in increasing XDR in the world,” she said.
Before the study, the World Health Organization estimated that just more than 5 percent of all resistant cases of TB were XDR.