Patients With Untreatable Tuberculosis Discharged Into Community


South Africa has the world’s highest number of patients with XDR-TB. Health officials warn other drug-resistant forms of the disease are spreading at an increasing rate, most notably in eastern and central Europe, China, India and Africa.

Scientists tracked 107 patients with extensively drug-resistant TB, also known as XDR-TB in three South African provinces between 2008 and 2012. Despite most patients being treated with about eight TB drugs, 79 died.

“What is tuberculosis (TB)? What causes tuberculosis?” It  is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis which can easily spread from person to person through airborne particles.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that TB is one of the most deadly diseases in the world.

The disease primarily affects the lungs, but it can also affect other organs. Typical symptoms of the disease include persistent coughing (in which a person can bring up blood), weight loss, night sweats, a fever, and loss of appetite.

More than 40 others were released from hospitals without further monitoring. TB is an infectious bacterial infection that usually affects the lungs and is often spread by coughing and sneezing.

In one case, DNA testing confirmed a discharged patient passed on the deadly strain to his brother; both eventually died without being admitted to a hospital.

Researchers said releasing patients with the lethal TB strain was happening on a widespread level in South Africa because there were few available beds in TB hospitals or palliative care facilities.

The research was published online in the journal, Lancet.

The research team, led by Prof. Keertan Dheda of the Department of Medicine at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, notes that the long-term treatment-related outcomes of patients with these forms of TB are unknown.

Dheda described the situation as alarming and called for modern care centers to be built so that patients could be treated away from society.

They decided to carry out an analysis on 107 patients from three provinces of South Africa who had been diagnosed with XDR-TB between 2002 and 2008. All patients were followed-up for 5 years.

Only 12 patients had positive outcomes 5 years after the treatment was started, and 79  had died.

In a commentary, Max O’Donnell and Neil Schluger of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York and the World Lung Foundation, described drug-resistant TB as an “out-of-control problem with potentially vast and devastating repercussions for global public health.”