While volunteering for the Peace Corps in Ukraine in 2010, I contracted a severe version of drug-resistant tuberculosis. Two years of painful, isolating treatment taught me the vital role social media may play in finally eradicating this disease.
Inconspicuous Consumption, a longform autobiographical essay.
It's not all bad news. People are living longer, we're winning the fight against malaria, worldwide poverty is down, and eight more reasons for hope in the coming year.
Drug-resistant and "extensively" resistant strains make containment and treatment of tuberculosis ever more difficult. Fortunately, researchers based in Switzerland have (re-)discovered a naturally-made antibiotic called pyridomycin, which will kill isoniazid-resistant M. tuberculosis bacteria.
Tuberculosis, which kills around 1,000 people a day in India, has acquired a deadlier edge. Forty years ago, the world thought it had conquered TB. [more inside]
An Atlanta man caused the U.S. government to issue its first quarantine order since 1963 this weekend, knowingly exposing as many as 107 passengers on two transatlantic flights to a rare, "extensively drug-resistant" form of tuberculosis. "It's regretful that we weren't able to stop that," the CDC's Dr. Martin Cetron said of how the man fled when U.S. health officials tracked him down in Rome and told him not to get on an airplane.
According to an article in The Guardian about this new scientific report on XDR-TB, a new kind of multiple-drug-resistant tuberculosis, in PLOS Medicine, "More than 300 cases of the highly infectious disease, which is spread by airborne droplets and kills 98% of those infected within about two weeks, have been identified in South Africa."
With a newly indurated PPD in my arm, I went looking for tuberculosis resources. According to the WHO over 2 million people a year die of tuberculosis. About a third of the 40 mil. people infected with HIV worldwide are also infected with TB. Successful treatment takes 6-9 months of powerful antibiotics, but that's assuming the bacteria in your body aren't drug resistant. Epidemics of drug resistant TB are raging in some parts of Central America and in the Russian prison system. Paul Farmer is the man for treating it, and quite a good man in general. On the plus side, possibly having TB puts me in good company: Orwell, Kafka, Chekhov, Chopin, and the 70s favorite mummy, King Tut all had it. Every one of the Brontes did too, and they were all geniuses. Of course they all died of it. On a more sober note, if I do have to get treatment, but I refuse, I might be ordered to take medications by a judge.