Over 300 new cases of TB diagnosed; directly observed antibiotics cocktail mostly effective

The TB prevalence in Israel is 3.8 people per 100,000

March 18, 2015 20:45
1 minute read.

Pills. (photo credit: INGIMAGE / ASAP)

A total of 308 people – more than 80 percent of them foreign born and half of them non-Israelis – were diagnosed in 2013 with tuberculosis, according to Health Ministry statistics published ahead of World Tuberculosis day on March 24.

The day was chosen because it was the date in 1882 of the discovery by Dr. Robert Koch of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacterium that causes the chronic disease.

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Throughout the world, but especially in Southeast Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and the western Pacific Ocean, there are an estimated 9 million people with TB. The ministry’s TB and AIDS department is holding a professional conference at the convention center in Ramat Gan’s Ramat Efal neighborhood on tuberculosis on Thursday.

The TB prevalence in Israel is 3.8 people per 100,000.

Since 1997, the ministry and the four health funds have had a national program to eradicate the disease, with nine diagnostic centers and a TB department at Shmuel Harofeh Hospital in Be’er Ya’acov. As it is recognized as a serious infectious disease, TB patients must undergo DOTS (directly observed treatment-short course) in which they take a cocktail of antibiotics daily (while being observed) for at least six months even though they may feel better. If TB patients stop taking the drug cocktail before the end of the course of treatment, they may cause the development of strains resistant to antibiotic treatment.

Most TB patients come from countries where the disease is endemic. Numerous patients with HIV and AIDS also have TB. Antiretroviral treatment (ART) for HIV patients who are not legal Israeli residents and thus lack public health insurance also helps prevent the development of TB, the ministry said. ART is provided to the foreigners at ministry expense and with help from AIDS clinics, nongovernmental organizations and pharmaceutical companies, and disseminated by the Superpharm chain.

Although Koch’s discovery raised hopes that his discovery of the bacteria will lead to it being wiped out, 200 million people around the globe have died of it. There has been an increase in prevalence since the 1980s, and in 1993, the World Health Organization declared TB a “global emergency.”

In the world as well as in Israel, cases of TB extremely resistant to antibiotics have been diagnosed. Thus the ministry has constantly to be on the lookout for such strains.

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