Drug-resistant TB on the rise in immigrant communities

Although numbers of cases of active Tuberculosis ( TB) have declined, health officials are worried about the increasing number of cases of drug-resistant TB they are seeing.    Refugees are permitted to enter the US with latent TB. This is one of the problems we have mentioned involving refugees who are not tracked by the volags (government-contracted resettlement agencies) or federal or state government in as soon as 3 months after their arrival in the US.

From Newsmax (hat tip Blulitespecial):

SAN FRANCISCO — Even as tuberculosis rates decline in the United States, drug-resistant strains of the disease showing up in states with large immigrant populations and are becoming increasingly hard to treat.

Researchers are concerned about this trend while funding for labor-intensive disease control programs is being cut in cities such as San Francisco, which has the highest TB rates in the country.

Drug resistance develops when patients start feeling better and interrupt their treatment, giving bacteria an opportunity to develop a defense against the medication.

The picture is grim, and World TB Day on Tuesday is an attempt to raise awareness of a disease that infects about 9 million people, particularly in Asia and Africa. About five percent of those patients are immune to the best drugs. About 2 million die annually.

Immigrant communities in states such as California are particularly vulnerable because many people are foreign born or travel frequently to countries where TB is a greater risk, such as Mexico, India and China

California leads the nation with 2,696 TB recorded cases in 2008_ and with 451 cases of drug-resistant TB identified between 1993 and 2007. About 83 percent of these drug-resistant cases involve immigrants born abroad.

If you are thinking, oh well, that is California, think again.   We began our coverage of TB in immigrant communities when we first read about Ft. Wayne, IN and its financially strapped health department here.   Check out our health issues category for lots more on TB.

Now, I am not saying we are Africa yet, but go back and read this post I wrote last June about the South African “prison” for drug-resistant TB patients.   What else can be done with these people?

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