Saturday, June 02, 2007

Fun with TB

In response to the recent "Oh my God, that man had TB and was on several international flights" scare, WedMD offers: Tuberculosis: 17 Questions and Answers

TB X-ray

So anyway, I find TB "hilarious" (in the very dark, cynical, "Sure, worry about bird flu and SARS, its not like we don't have enough things after us now..." way). According to the WHO,1 a third of the world's population--mark that, a third--is infected with the bacteria that causes TB (of course, unless immuno-compromised, relatively few of those will develope the illness). Unsurpriseingly, given its high proportion of immuno-compromised (e.g. people with HIV) and generally poor health care infrastructure, Africa has the highest prevalence2 and mortality3 of any continent. That doesn't mean that every country in Africa is that bad, nor that other countries aren't worse, as "continent" is a hell of big sample size.4

In happier news, WHO also thinks the global incidence of TB peaked in 2005,5 thanks to world-wide efforts to control the incidence of infection.

TB is of course a disease with a long and colourful history, which Wikipedia summarizes here.

  1. Fact sheet N°104, Revised March 2007
  2. Ibid. 511/100k population, more than twice any other continent (SE Asia is next with 290) or the world average of 217/100k.
  3. Ibid. 74/100k population, three times the world average of 24/100k.
  4. Cf. Bangladesh (prevalence 406/100k, mortality 47/100k); Cambodia (703, 87); Philippines (450, 47); Russia (150, 20, which isn't all that bad accept that it's a growing problem in a country that used to have excellent nationalized healthcare): WHO, Global tuberculosis control - surveillance, planning, financing, WHO Report 2007, WHO/HTM/TB/2007.376, online:
  5. Supra note 1.

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