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Highly Potent TB Strain Plays Favorites Targeting Specific Ethnic Groups

A highly severe form of tuberculosis that caused a major outbreak in a British school just five years ago, affecting at least 254 school children//, has surfaced again, directing its destruction on a specific ethnic group, reveal scientists. Scientists’ stumbled upon this discovery while conducting a study to examine the potency of the 2001 outbreak. Sadly, 50% of the children had been immunized against the disease with the BCG vaccine.

The severe strain, labeled as CH, belongs to the ‘famous six’ group and is said to have spread from the people of Indian origin, easily transmittable to several ethnic groups. The other forms of TB include European-American, two West African, an East Asian and Indo-Oceanic varieties.

Research by Mike Barer, a clinical microbiologist at Leicester University, and colleagues at Imperial College, London, discovered a mutation in the CH strain, capable of debilitating the immune system of the infected people. Professor Barer, whose study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, said "If it is adapting to different groups, we may need new approaches to treatment and prevention, such as different types of vaccine for each group."

The time is ripe for evolved treatments to contain the spread of the disease.


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