Botswana's Ministry of Health has confirmed the country's first two cases of extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis, which is resistant to the two most potent first-line treatments and some of the available second-line drugs, the AP/Google.com reports.
The health ministry also said it has confirmed 100 cases of multi-drug resistant TB. XDR-TB can be "particularly lethal" in Southern Africa because it often affects people living with HIV/AIDS, the AP/Google.com reports.
According to a report released in November 2007 by the Forum for Collaborative HIV Research, about one-third of the approximately 40 million HIV-positive people worldwide also are living with TB. Deaths from HIV/TB coinfection are five times higher than deaths from TB alone, the report said. It found that about half of all new TB cases in sub-Saharan Africa occur among HIV-positive people and that HIV/TB coinfection could be fueling the increase in drug-resistant strains of TB.
About 10% of people living with HIV/AIDS develop TB annually, according to the report. Approximately 90% of people living with HIV/AIDS will die within months of contracting TB, Stephen Lawn, a researcher at the University of Cape Town, said.
XDR-TB has been reported in other parts of the world, and a number of cases have been diagnosed in the former Soviet republics. In Southern Africa, more than 400 cases of the disease have been reported in South Africa, and a handful of cases have been diagnosed in Mozambique.
Although health officials have said the disease likely has spread to neighboring countries like Swaziland and Lesotho, XDR-TB has not been diagnosed in other Southern African nations because of a lack of laboratory facilities. In addition to South Africa, Botswana is the only other country in Southern Africa with adequate laboratory capacity to diagnose XDR-TB, according to the AP/Google.com.
Batatu Tafa, permanent secretary of Botswana's health ministry, said health care workers who provide TB treatment should receive examinations if they develop any symptoms. Tafa also called on HIV-positive people in the country to receive TB screenings.
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation