Although tuberculosis remains the top epidemic disease in China, beating out other favorites such as rabies, AIDS, and hepatitis B, most of us have nothing to worry about. We’ve been vaccinated before, and if we get it, most of us will manage, with a proper drug regimen, to nuke the bacteria. However, there are drug resistant strains of TB, but that’s why we’ve got a whole bunch of anti-TB drugs: eventually one works. The bad news is that there is such thing as multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB), and if you get that, you won’t necessarily die, but if you’re poor and don’t get the right kind of treatment—you’re f*cked. To combat you need MDR-TB you need some serious TB experts who have experience dealing with it.
Recent findings show that MDR-TB is more prevalent than we previously thought. And one of the places of which this is true are certain provinces of China. In fact, “researchers estimate that 424 000 cases of MDR-TB emerged worldwide in 2004. Three countries – China, India, and Russia – account for over half of these cases.”
What about Shanghai? A recent report says that we’ve got some MDR-TB problems. However, what’s worrisome is that it’s not a matter of improper drug regimens or noncompliance (i.e., people not taking their drugs on time). Both of those can lead to drug resistance, following the same principle that holds for diseases cured by penicillin and antibiotics. However, this report says that people are taking their drugs, but are nonetheless getting “reinfected” by another, more dangerous strain:
The study “suggests that drug-resistant tuberculosis is being transmitted in the facilities and communities in which these patients are being treated, and accelerated efforts to interrupt transmission are needed,” the researcher concluded.