The prevalence and drug sensitivity of tuberculosis among patients dying in hospital in South Africa

Jun 22, 2010

A large, systematic postmortem study carried out in South Africa by Ted Cohen and colleagues has revealed that 94% of deceased patients were HIV infected and 50% had culture-positive tuberculosis at the time of death. These data, which reveal that the toll of tuberculosis in young people (age 20-45) in KwaZulu-Natal is higher than we previously thought, are published this week in the open access medical journal PLoS Medicine.

Every year, nearly 10 million people develop tuberculosis—a contagious bacterial infection that affects the lungs and other parts of the body—and nearly two million people die from the disease. Tuberculosis is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. People who are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, are particularly susceptible to tuberculosis because of their weakened immune system.

Postmortem studies which assess contributory causes of death in patients admitted to hospital in an area where mortality from TB and TB/HIV is extremely high are infrequently done, but provide key data that can enable optimization of HIV and TB treatment programs.

The researchers determined the prevalence and drug sensitivity of tuberculosis among patients dying in a public hospital in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The authors found that the majority of the deceased, who at the time of death were receiving tuberculosis treatment, were infected with M. tuberculosis strains that were fully susceptible to antibiotics. This suggests that the diagnosis of tuberculosis was made too late to alter the fatal course of the infection.

These findings suggest that improving the early diagnosis of tuberculosis, for example, routine screening for tuberculosis among HIV-positive patients, and speedier initiation of treatment for both tuberculosis and HIV could reduce the global death toll from .

Explore further: Second bird flu case confirmed in Canada

More information: Cohen T, Murray M, Wallengren K, Alvarez GG, Samuel EY, et al. (2010) The Prevalence and Drug Sensitivity of Tuberculosis among Patients Dying in Hospital in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa: A Postmortem Study. PLoS Med 7 (6): e1000296. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000296

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

HIV/AIDS linked to drug resistant TB

Nov 16, 2006

U.S. scientists say a highly drug-resistant form of tuberculosis has been linked to HIV/AIDS in a study conducted in rural South Africa.

Recommended for you

Second bird flu case confirmed in Canada

12 hours ago

The husband of a Canadian who was diagnosed earlier this week with bird flu after returning from a trip to China has also tested positive for the virus, health officials said Friday.

What exactly is coronavirus?

19 hours ago

The conflicts in Syria and Iraq are straining public health systems and public health efforts meant to prevent and detect the spread of infectious diseases. This is generating a "perfect storm" of conditions for outbreaks. Among the infections raising concern is Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, caused by a type of coronavirus, which emerged in 2012. ...

Scientists find Ebola virus is mutating

19 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—Researchers working at Institut Pasteur in France have found that the Ebola virus is mutating "a lot" causing concern in the African countries where the virus has killed over eight thous ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.