Harnessing New Technologies To Tackle An Old Disease

Dr. Yanis Ben Amor and Sarah Snidal | Huffington Post | March 23, 2013

Though more than 3,500 people worldwide died of tuberculosis (TB) today, you won't see it reported in headlines of any major American newspaper. Neither will you see that March 24 is World TB Day simply because for many Americans it is a disease that doesn't hit home, but this could quickly change.

Drug-resistant strains of TB, the most deadly and costly form of the illness, had a brief moment in the spotlight in 2007 when an American lawyer made headlines after making several international trips while infected with multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB), a strain of TB resistant to the two most potent TB antibiotics. Drug resistant TB, like drug susceptible TB, is spread through the respiratory system simply by breathing the infectious particle coughed by a sick patient. It was a worrisome situation for the hundreds of people who were exposed to the drug-resistant strains while travelling on the same airplanes as the MDR-TB patient.

Just last month, the CDC was searching for more than 4,500 people in the LA area that had been exposed to the disease. In 2011, there were nearly 11,000 reported cases of TB in the U.S., and 1.3 percent of these cases were multidrug resistant. Despite this, tuberculosis and tuberculosis resistance is not considered a major issue in the United States...