XDR TB, also known as Extensively Drug Resistant Tuberculosis, has been declared by the WHO as one of the top 5 diseases that they are currently fighting to eliminate. XDR TB refers to strains of tuberculosis that are resistant to the most powerful antibiotics available, leaving patients with no treatment options available to them unless more effective drugs can be developed in time to help them. It’s important to understand what XDR TB is, how it differs from other strains of tuberculosis, and how it spreads so that you can take steps towards protecting yourself and your family from catching it and spreading it further.
What is TB?
Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease that infects your lungs and can spread to other parts of your body. The most common symptoms include
Why did we lose the battle?
Diagnosing, treating and containing multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is a long, arduous process that typically takes months and is often unsuccessful. Without early intervention and treatment, MDR-TB patients are 40 times more likely to die than their non-infected counterparts. In addition to facing longer periods of contagiousness during which they’re likely to infect more people, infected individuals may suffer serious health complications as a result of infection.
Today's Treatments Will Likely Fade Away
The antibiotic regimens that work for drug-susceptible tuberculosis (TB) don't touch M. tuberculosis that's resistant to all standard drugs, such as first-line drugs rifampin and isoniazid. As a result, treatment can last more than two years and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in countries with significant burdens of multi-drug resistant TB, especially places like Russia and China where care often isn't free.
The Future Looks Promising
About 40% of people who have extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis will die from it within a year. About half of those infected with MDR-TB and 85% of those infected with XDR-TB will develop active disease at some point in their lives. Although, thanks to recent breakthroughs, there’s reason to be optimistic about improving these statistics for future generations.