Friday, June 22, 2007

If at first you don't succeed, kill them some other way

Sharp rise in XDR-TB cases in Western Cape

Cases of extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) have more than quadrupled in the Western Cape in the past three months, the Cape Times reported on Thursday.

The newspaper cited provincial health department figures.

Also, the Brooklyn Chest TB Hospital has no room for more patients. It has 22 beds in the isolation wards to treat XDR-TB cases.

This comes as the City of Cape Town has drawn up contingency plans in the event of an XDR-TB outbreak.

Since World TB Day in March, 45 XDR-TB cases have been notified in the province. Eight people have died, according to department figures. In March, there were 10 known XDR-TB cases in the province.

XDR-TB, which withstands first- and second-line antibiotic treatment, is almost impossible to treat. It has killed 290 patients nationwide.

Department spokesperson Faiza Steyn said most patients with XDR-TB were admitted as quickly as possible to Brooklyn.

"At times, patients do have to wait for a bed at Brooklyn Chest Hospital," Steyn said.

Some patients were treated in side wards at the hospital, while the rest were in isolation at prisons in the province, she said.

City health director Ivan Toms said the department and clinics had implemented steps to reduce the health risk of TB and XDR-TB.

"These include clinic designs to separate waiting areas for TB clients, ensuring good airflow in TB areas, providing masks to coughing TB patients and respirators for all staff in the TB area," he said.

He said that in the last quarter, Cape Town achieved its best cure rate of 79% for TB.

According to XDR-TB statistics, 437 cases have been reported, with 290 deaths among them. Most were in KwaZulu-Natal, where the strain was first detected.

Original article posted here

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