Bloomberg News

Drug-Evading Tuberculosis Shows Rising Superbug Threat in China

September 29, 2011

Sept. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Almost half of tuberculosis patients with a strain resistant to two or more drugs hadn’t had the disease before, according to a study at a Chinese hospital.

Of 100 multidrug-resistant TB cases studied at Shandong Provincial Tuberculosis Hospital, 45 weren’t previously treated for the lung infection, doctors at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention found. The finding, published in the October edition of Emerging Infectious Diseases journal, indicates “substantial” transmission of the deadly superbug, the authors said.

Many of the affected had the so-called Beijing genotype, which is prevalent in China and has spread to the rest of Asia, the former Soviet republic and South Africa. An estimated 120,000 people catch multidrug-resistant TB each year in China, which has the most cases globally after India.

“The largest amount of people with tuberculosis in the world are in China and India by a long, long way,” said Warwick Britton, professor of immunology at the University of Sydney. “And so to really control TB in the world you’ve got to control TB in China.”

Most of the patients in the study were previously treated, lacked health insurance, or less educated, according to the study.

Drug-resistant tuberculosis is spreading in Europe at an “alarming rate,” the World Health Organization said Sept. 15.

--Editors: Nicholas Wadhams, Jason Gale

To contact the reporter on this story: Natasha Khan in Hong Kong at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jason Gale at

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