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XDR-TB: Deadlier and more mysterious than ever
Date:11/5/2008

New research has found that XDR-TB is increasingly common and more deadly than previously known. Extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) is a growing public health threat that is only just beginning to be understood by medical and public health officials.

Patients with XDR-TB are four times as likely to fail treatment and three times more likely to die than patients with other forms of multi-drug-resistant TB (MDR-TB), according to a recent study that directly compared patients with XDR-TB to individuals with other types of MDR-TB to determine the differences in treatment outcomes and long-term survival rates. Researchers also found that MDR-TB was "a major threat to public health," representing 2.7 percent of new TB cases in South Korea in 2004, up from 1.6 percent in 1994.

The results were published in the second issue for November of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, a journal of the American Thoracic Society.

Since it appeared on the public health radar in 2006, XDR-TB rekindled an urgent interest in preventing, fighting and containing TB. But at the same time, little was known about how XDR-TB changed the face of combating TB on all fronts, from the perspective of the patient, the clinician and the public health official.

"Treatment outcomes [of XDR-TB] have varied among studies, and data on long-term survival are still scarce," wrote Tae Sun Shim, M.D., an associate professor at Asan Medical Center in Seoul, South Korea, and a principal investigator of the study. "[This] is the largest report that we know of that compares patients with XDR-TB with other patients with MDR-TB to determine the impact of XDR-TB on treatment outcomes and long-term survival in mostly HIV-negative patients with MDR-TB."

The study reviewed the medical records of more than 1,400 patients in South Korea with MDR-TB (which includes XDR-TB) from all national hospitals, Korean National TB Ass
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Contact: Keely Savoie
ksavoie@thoracic.org
212-315-8620
American Thoracic Society
Source:Eurekalert

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