South African TB patients riot

While I’m on the subject of infectious diseases this morning, here is a frightening story from South Africa thanks to blulitespecial. 

CAPE TOWN, South Africa – Authorities increased security Friday at a tuberculosis hospital where patients with drug-resistant forms of the disease went on a rampage to protest prison-like conditions.

Twenty-two patients were arrested Wednesday, accused of public violence and assault after they pelted staff with stones and vandalized equipment. But the local police station and prison refused to admit them because of fears of the highly infectious disease. Instead, they were returned to the hospital.

The Jose Pearson hospital, near the coastal city of Port Elizabeth, treats about 300 patients. Many have multidrug-resistant TB and the even more dangerous extensively drug-resistant TB, which is very difficult and expensive to treat. Those with drug-resistant strains are supposed to stay in the hospital for six months to two years, living in isolated wards surrounded by barbed wire and security guards.

South African authorities have reluctantly resorted to enforced confinement of patients with drug-resistant TB because of fears that it might otherwise spread through the community. TB is an airborne bacteria and can be spread easily through coughing or sneezing.

The country is gripped by a tuberculosis crisis, which is feeding off the AIDS epidemic and striking the weakened immune system of victims. Nearly 60 percent of South African TB patients have AIDS. The emergence of drug-resistant TB strains — often the result of not sticking to the standard six-month course of treatment — has worsened patients’ chances of survival.

Why am I telling you this, because as the “rainbow nation” implodes (I wonder if that was discussed at the star-studded Mandela birthday bash this week) we are going to be pressured to take refugees newly created by the violence against immigrants in South Africa.

We are already admitting refugees with HIV and TB.  And, I will bet you a buck that the refugees that roam from city to city are not sticking with their six-month long treatment regime and that the volags are not following up on these people.    A Somali refugee died of TB in a Tyson’s plant in Emporia, KS last year.  Bet you didn’t hear that in the news.

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