December 11, 2008

Drug-resistant TB higher in China

Levels of drug-resistant tuberculosis in China are nearly twice the global average, researchers said.

Research published in the journal BMC Infectious Diseases, said almost 10 percent of Chinese TB cases are resistant to the most effective first-line drugs.

Susan van den Hof of the KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation in The Netherlands said China has joined the global project on anti-tuberculosis drug resistance surveillance, and investigated drug resistance in 10 provinces from 1996 to 2004.

China has the second largest number of TB cases in the world, and is one of the countries with high levels of drug-resistant TB, van den Hof said.

The prevalence of drug resistance varied greatly between the provinces, but on average was worryingly high, with a weighted mean for multi-drug resistant tuberculosis of 9.3 percent among all cases; 5.4 percent among new cases and 25.6 percent among previously treated cases, the study authors said in a statement.

The global multi-drug resistant tuberculosis estimates are 4.8 percent for all cases, 3.1 percent for new cases and 19.3 percent for previously treated cases.

Treatment of drug-resistant tuberculosis requires use of costly, toxic and less effective second-line drugs and infected patients are less likely to survive treatment, the researchers said.