XDR-TB - saturday 2008-10-04 1433 last modified 2008-10-04 2357
Categories: Road, Current Events
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Tuberculosis is a horrible disease. Multi-Drug Resistant TB is worse and substantially more expensive to treat. Extremely Drug Resistant TB, a recent classification from the WHO, appears to be to MDR-TB what MDR-TB is to TB. The virulent strains are mutations from base TB, cultivated in hosts where drug courses aren't properly followed and spread through all manner of vectors found in unsanitary conditions; think antibiotics and the creation of superbugs. These are real superbugs in real places. Most people in the affluent west don't pay attention to the scourge of TB because it doesn't directly affect us the way, say, cancer or AIDS does (though TB can make an AIDS infection even more horrific). A very small percentage of Americans contract TB annually. But we've heard about XDR-TB before: witness last summer's breaking news story about the patient who flew commercial flights and circumvented border patrol while potentially spreading his MDR-TB cargo (he apparently didn't). The world's a community, and we miss the plight of its poorest members at their and our own peril.

There are some NGOs like Partners in Health and the Eugene Bell Foundation that take the fight for alleviating TB to the policy level and to the ground in impoverished corners of the world, like Haiti and North Korea. Leaving it to the dedicated isn't enough. Via photojournalist James Nachtwey's work in covering XDR-TB, see what else can be done at home. (Well, try, at least; I'm having trouble with the Flash. For something this important and that amounts to mostly a collection of text and links, could we please just use common standards? Sign the letter link.)

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