Resistant strains of TB bacteria appearing around the world
A national conference to mark the first decade of the national program to halt TB will be held in Tel Aviv.
By JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH
There were 406 new cases of tuberculosis in Israel in 2005, compared to 519 during the previous year, according to Health Ministry statistics issued to mark World TB Awareness Day on Tuesday. A national conference to mark the first decade of the national program to halt TB will be held in Tel Aviv.
The bacterium that causes the infectious disease, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, was identified in 1882 by Dr. Robert Koch. During the late 19th century, one out of every seven people living in Europe and the US was felled by TB, and since then, some 200 million people around the world have died from the disease. It is still the most common fatal infectious disease in the world, with nine million new cases and two million fatalities a year, mostly in the developing world.
The ministry said that in recent years there have been reports around the world of the isolation of a TB strain that is resistant to most of the available drugs, making it difficult for doctors to treat them. The ministry's department for TB and AIDS and the diagnostic centers and labs are following this development.
The World Health Organization declared TB to be a "global emergency" in 1993. The disease was listed as a "serious infectious disease" by the Health Ministry in Jerusalem in 1996, making it reportable and establishing a national program in cooperation with all four health funds.
They instituted, with the district health offices, directly observable therapy-short course (DOTS), in which TB patients take a "cocktail" of antibacterial drugs while being observed.
As patients tend to feel better after taking antibiotics for a short time, many stopped taking them, causing the bacteria's resistance to the drugs to grow, resulting in multidrug-resistant TB. Thus they are required to come to clinics to take the drugs in front of medical personnel. This treatment over six months has a 90 percent cure rate. Most patients are immigrants from countries where TB is endemic.
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