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Transmission of multidrug resistant tuberculosis and cannabis use

Cannabis has been identified as a potential risk factor in some global tuberculosis outbreaks. Trends suggest that this connection stands as an important public health concern. Researchers have made an association between cannabis use and tuberculosis (both as a latent infection and active disease). Such data is of importance in terms of developing future tuberculosis prevention and control strategies.

Tuberculosis is a contagious infection caused by bacteria that mainly affects the lungs but also can affect any other organ, caused by Mycobacteria. Current estimates suggest that 1.7 billion people are infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

In terms of the transmission route, from cannabis that is contaminated to users, it is likely that the method used to inhale cannabis is an important factor in tuberculosis transmission. Some research draws a connection between people sharing a cannabis water pipe and with the practice of inhaling smoke and then exhaling it into another individual’s mouth (‘shotgunning’). As with any heavy form of smoking, cannabis use carries an association with chronic bronchitis symptoms and large airway inflammation. weaker lungs make the severity of any infection far greater.

Not all researchers have unearthed an association between cannabis use and tuberculosis infection. For example, French and colleagues said that data showing tuberculosis acquisition was weak. However, this was more to do with the quality of analyses detailed in research papers rather than a lack of demonstrable connection. The researchers argued that topic better data collection was needed along with more accurate exposure information. By this the researchers meant how cannabis is consumed, plus the dose and the frequency of use.

While research continues, an increase in cannabis use and with more players entering the market, who many have lower quality control standards, means there is mileage in exploring the connection and risk factors between frequent cannabis use and bacterial infection.

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Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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