Tuberculosis (TB)


Extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis

Improvements in diagnosis and laboratory capacity are among key elements to XDR-TB control
Riccardo Venturi/WHO/Contrasto

XDR-TB is the abbreviation for extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB). One in three people in the world is infected with dormant TB germs (i.e. TB bacteria). Only when the bacteria become active do people become ill with TB. Bacteria become active as a result of anything that can reduce the person’s immunity, such as HIV, advancing age, or some medical conditions. TB can usually be treated with a course of four standard, or first-line, anti-TB drugs. If these drugs are misused or mismanaged, multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) can develop. MDR-TB takes longer to treat with second-line drugs, which are more expensive and have more side-effects. XDR-TB can develop when these second-line drugs are also misused or mismanaged and therefore also become ineffective. Because XDR-TB is resistant to first- and second-line drugs, treatment options are seriously limited. It is therefore vital that TB control is managed properly.


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