Poor Infection Control Increases Risk of Drug-Resistant TB for Healthcare Workers


New research confirms what experts have long suspected: poor tuberculosis (TB) infection control measures in many South African health facilities place healthcare workers at risk.

A 2003-2007 study at a specialized treatment center for drug-resistant TB in KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa found that 235 of the 3,639 patients referred to the center were healthcare workers. Approximately ten percent of these cases had extensively drug-resistant (XDR) TB which is not affected by most TB medicines.

Researchers calculated that the incidence of XDR-TB and multidrug-resistant (MDR) TB — tuberculosis resistant to the two most powerful anti-TB drugs — is six to seven times higher among healthcare workers than among non-health care worker patients.

Attendees at a recent national AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa called for the implementation of basic infection control measures, including an adequate supply of masks to health care workers and patients, in order to slow the spread of drug-resistant TB in the country.

Adapted from PlusNews article.

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