650,000 Cases of Multidrug-Resistant TB in 2010: WHO

These cases are becoming more difficult to treat in some countries where medicines may not always be available, according to the public health agency.

Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) cases worldwide are increasing every year, the World Health Organzation recently reported, noting that about 650,000 cases of MDR-TB were reported in the world in 2010. About 9 percent of them were extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB), a form of multidrug-resistant TB that responds to even fewer available medicines.

MDR-TB cases do not respond to at least isoniazid and rifampicin, the two most powerful anti-tuberculosis drugs.

"The primary cause of multidrug resistance is mismanagement of TB treatment," the agency noted. "Most people with tuberculosis are cured by a strictly followed, six-month drug regimen that is provided to patients with support and supervision. Inappropriate or incorrect use of antimicrobial drugs, or use of ineffective formulations of drugs, can cause drug resistance. Strong and enforced regulations to ensure acceptable, effective tuberculosis treatment can help control MDR-TB. In some countries, it is becoming increasingly difficult to treat MDR-TB. Treatment options are limited and recommended medicines are not always available. In some cases even more drug-resistant tuberculosis is developing."

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