- CAPE TOWN, South Africa --
In an article already published a full year ago by two top TB-researchers
at South Africa's University of Stellenbosch' medical faculty, it was
reported that the entire Western Cape province around Cape Town already
was "particularly badly affected by the 'Tuberculosis Superbug"
-- i.e. Extremely- Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis (XDR-TB) at that time.
- Yet this vitally-important information about an XDR-TB
epidemic in one of the world's most favourite tourist destinations was
never passed along to the Centres for Disease Control in Atlanta by the
country's anti-science national health minister. Her department had only
informed the CDC about the outbreak at a former mission hospital at Tugela
Ferry in KwaZulu-Natal, where 600 patients have already died of XDR-TB
since October 2006. The current death rate of XDR-TB in South Africa also
is not being published by the national health minister - but journalists
in South Africa don't seem to dare ask her directly why this important
information is being withheld from the public.
- LINK TO ABOVE-MENTIONED ARTICLE:
- And even today, the Cape Town XDR-TB outbreak is still
not mentioned by the Centres for Disease Control in Atlanta nor by the
World Health Organisation, which both still state in their latest press
releases that the Kwazulu-Natal XDR-TB outbreak remains the 'epicentre'
of South Africa's epidemic.
- This 'reporting oversight' by the South African health
department to also warn about Cape Town's XDR-TB epidemic could have serious
repercussions for the many foreign travellers to this beautiful city
-- as South Africa's so-called 'Mother City' remains the most popular
tourist destination on the African continent, with some 350,000 annual
visitors in 2005. Yet no warnings about the XDR-TB epidemic in Cape Town
are being published by the CDC or WHO -- only about the one in KwaZulu-Natal...
- Yet a year ago, the team headed by Professor Tommie Victor
(picture) of the University's Faculty of Health Sciences was already
reporting widely that their own field-research proved that 'drug resistance
may be an even bigger problem than previously thought" among the
Western Cape's TB-patients; that these patients moreover, often harboured
two different strains of TB simultaneously; and that their drug-resistant
strain was actually made even worse by their being prescribed the cheaper
line of TB- drugs.
- 'XDR-strain freely passed on into the community because
it takes two months to diagnose...'
- Professor Victor 's team had already discovered in 2003
that his TB patients harboured a uniquely-South African XDR-TB strain
which was a mutation between the tuberculosis bacillus and the human-immune-
deficiency virus which leads to Aids. The team named this the SA-1 strain.
This XDR-TB strain has a recorded kill-rate of about 14 to 20 days from
infection, the two outbreaks in KwaZulu-Natal and Cape Town have shown
since that time.
- Importantly, their "Biomedical Tuberculosis Research'
at Stellenbosch University's Faculty of Health Sciences also showed that
because diagnosis was far too slow (taking up to two months)
'the dangerous bacteria in drug-resistant strains of TB are freely passed
on' (into the rest of the community.
- Prof Victor warned that their "(examined Western
Cape) patients were by then already showing resistance to as many as five
of the six frontline anti-TB drugs and these "super-bugs" became
increasingly resistant -- and that the patients remained so infectious
that they continued to spread XDR-TB easily into the community, thus posing
an increasing threat as it spreads.
- Victor also pointed out the important fact that to treat
multiple- drug-resistant TB with the correct drugs could cost as much as
R20,000 ($200-US) per patient -- compared to about R200 a patient for
drug-susceptible TB. This was important information as the South African
government had actually slashed its TB-prevention budget by 50% only three
years earlier as a massive cost-saving measure, yet here they were suddenly
presented with a brand-new very deadly tuberculosis variety which would
cost them huge dollops of extra cash to treat correctly.
- His team's research showed that more than half of patients
with drug-resistant TB who were tested in two of the Western Cape's four
health districts were already resistant to Pyrazinamide (PZA) which
is only one of the four drugs being used in the so-called single-dose
treatment of Tuberculosis in South Africa.
- He warned in this report a full year ago that 'urgent
efforts are needed to diagnose TB quicker and that if first-line treatment
fails, the risk of multi-drug resistant TB grows even faster in patients
who already are infected with multiple drug-resistant strains. "
- "Two different TB-strains can be found in one patient
- ?Prof Rob Warren (pictured here) also of Medical Biochemistry
at SU, has published additional research that has sunk the dogma that
a person develops TB only through a single infection. He's released findings
that that two different TB strains are being found in one patient simultaneously
in the Western Cape's field-studies --
- implying more than one infection.
- Vaccination against the first TB infection would be useless
- This finding means that (treatment against) the first
infection clearly didn't protect the patient against a second infection
also posing serious implications for vaccine development. In fact,
his research also showed that when treated with antibiotics, the resistant
strain always emerged as the dominant one, he warned.
- "Some South African patients have both drug-sensitive
and drug- resistant strains TB at the same time. Treatment with antibiotics
leads tot the resistant strain emerging as the dominant one. Poor diagnosis
can lead to the multidrug-resistant strain being diagnosed only when the
original diagnosis fails, while whole communities are put at risk. It
can take up to eight weeks to identify whether a TB strain is resistant
while the infection is being passed on to others," Professor
- XDR-TB Epidemic - Voice of America Information Video:
- link http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=INdBNgOc5ls&mode=related&search=???