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WHO Warns: Poor Diagnosis Tied to Multidrug-Resistant TB

Update Date: Mar 20, 2014 03:32 PM EDT

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) is a "global health security risk." The agency announced that due to poor diagnosis of drug-resistant TB, roughly three million people do not get the treatment they need to fight off the infection.

TB is caused by a bacterium known as Mycobacterium tuberculosis. When it infects the body, the bacteria typically attack the lungs first but it can also attack other parts of the body. When TB is not treated properly, it can lead to death. In 2012, the superbug strains of TB sickened half a million people with only a quarter of them properly diagnosed and treated. The rest of the infected people either did not receive care or got the wrong type of medical treatment.

WHO stated that administering the wrong type of treatments is responsible for the development of multi-drug resistant TB. When drug-resistant strains spread throughout the world, the mortality rate could increase until researchers can find a better way of treating these superbug strains.

"Earlier and faster diagnosis of all forms of TB is vital," said WHO director general Margaret Chan reported by FOX News. "It improves the chances of people getting the right treatment and being cured, and it helps stop spread of drug-resistant disease."

Just last year, the international agency stated that multidrug-resistant TB should be declared a public health crisis. WHO announced that by 2015, up to two million people could contract multidrug-resistant TB.

Currently, many international projects, such as EXPAND-TB, which stands for Expanding Access to New Diagnostics for TB, have been created to combat the TB situation. EXPAND-TB, which received funding from UNITAID, helped deliver new diagnostic technologies to low- and middle-income nations that typically have higher rates of TB.

"The gap in access to TB diagnostics and care is far from filled, but it is narrowing," said Mario Raviglione, director of WHO's global TB program. "Increased capacity and reduced prices mean that we can reach more people."

With improved efforts, the fight against multi-drug resistant TB can progress quickly.

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