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article imageGlobal tuberculosis cases increase

By Tim Sandle     Oct 25, 2014 in Health
Geneva - A new study by the World Health Organization indicates that tuberculosis has infected hundreds of thousands more people around the world. The actual figures are far higher than those estimated a year ago.
A worrying new survey released by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that tuberculosis is causing more infections and deaths the world over than previous estimates indicated. The report is titled "Global tuberculosis report 2014," and it is the 19th report issued by the health body on this particular disease.
The revised figures indicate that in 2013 there were 9 million new cases of tuberculosis reported in the more than 200 countries that account for more than 99 percent of the world’s tuberculosis cases. As Pharmaceutical Microbiology points out, tuberculosis is only transmitted by people, and the organism cannot survive in the environment. It thrives, however, in the crowded conditions of prisons, refugee camps and slums. Tuberculosis is a widespread, and sometimes fatal, infectious disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The classic symptoms of active TB infection are a chronic cough with blood-tinged sputum, fever, night sweats, and weight loss.
Although the number of reported cases this year is 400,000 above what the WHO calculated in 2013, the increased numbers could indicate improvements in diagnosis and data capture, rather than the missed cases of the disease.
Richard Chaisson, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Tuberculosis Research in Baltimore, Maryland, told ScienceInsider that tuberculosis remains a major global issue: "There has been some real progress, particularly in Asia, but the overall situation remains catastrophic. Improvements in some countries are offset by disastrous situations in others, with MDR [multidrug-resistant] TB, HIV-related TB, and continued high rates of missed diagnoses and deaths. The situation in Africa is particularly horrific, with TB killing more young people than any other cause."
The need for global action remains a high priority for the WHO.
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