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Drug Resistant TB Strain Found

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Tuberculosis is a major global public health issue. it typically affects the lungs, but can also target other organs and body parts, such as the brain, the kidneys, or the spine. Although antibiotics are effective in treating most cases, tuberculosis (TB) kills approximately 4,500 people worldwide every day. Some strains have developed resistance to these drugs, and Doctors in India have recently reported the country's first cases of the virtually untreatable form of tuberculosis.


This is not the first case of this form of TB, the long-feared and "totally drug-resistant” killer lung disease had previously been reported only in impoverished areas of Italy and Iran. Be aware that this relatively rare type of tuberculosis is resistant to almost all drugs used to treat TB.


Traditionally first responders (firefighters, EMS and law enforcement officers) are the most likely to respond to an incident in a time of crisis. So these responders are particularly at risk because like traditional TB, germs for this drug resistant disease become airborne when a person with the disease coughs, sneezes, or speaks. These germs can float in the air for several hours, depending on the environment infecting persons who breathe in the air containing these germs and can become infected. Fortunately, according to experts only 3%- 5% actually get TB after being exposed to the germ.


Remember that we live in a mobile world in the United States, research shows that most tuberculosis cases come from immigrants or visitors from other countries, many of which drug-resistant TB is spreading. Consider that several new lethal infectious diseases crop up every year, but this drug-resistant tuberculosis is a new strain of an ageless disease that is resistant to a combination of standard and reserve treatment medications. So in the era of globalization, the risk of an isolated outbreak of disease becoming an epidemic or even pandemic is greater than ever.


Consider that on the job, when we encounter people potentially stricken with “active TB” that have a higher risk of infecting others we need to exercise extra caution what many call the “high risk” first responder environment. Remember that personnel protective equipment (PPE) plays an important role in guarding against exposure, and protecting yourself in exposure situations.


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Guest Sunday, 09 August 2020