Friday, 31 August 2007

Tuberculosis + diabetes tougher to treat

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New research finds tuberculosis (TB) is more difficult to treat if the patient has type 2 diabetes. The study examined 737 Indonesians with tuberculosis screened for type 2. Nearly 15 percent had type 2, and initially, their TB was as severe as the non-diabetics. After two months of treatment, TB sputum tests were positive 18.1 percent for those with type 2 and only 10 percent in non-diabetics. At the six month mark, 22.2 percent of type 2s had positive sputum results compared to 9.5 percent of the non-diabetics.

The story in Reuters does not address why people with TB and type 2 diabetes do not respond as well to TB treatment. Tuberculosis is a serious infectious disease. Over one-third of the world carries the TB bacterium, and one in ten latent infections will progress to active TB disease. Untreated, active TB is a real threat, it kills more than half of its victims. Experts are examining how rising rates of type 2 are impacting TB control and prevention worldwide.

I just finished reading an excellent book about Dr. Paul Farmer's inspirational work treating tuberculosis in impoverished communities worldwide -- Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World -- masterfully written by Tracy Kidder. I wonder what Dr. Farmer has to say about people with type 2 and TB.

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