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Medical News and Perspectives
March 20, 2013

South Africa Warns of Emergence of “Totally” Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis

JAMA. 2013;309(11):1097-1098. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.1802

After spending 5 months volunteering at a small hospital in South Africa in 2007, physical therapist Natalie Skipper returned to her hometown of Paris, Tenn—and to a diagnosis of extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) that took 2 years to treat, including 90 days in isolation. Skipper was “lucky,” relatively speaking, because despite the difficulty in treating XDR-TB, she was ultimately cured.

Now, however, newly identified strains of TB have emerged in South Africa and elsewhere that some experts say might make treating TB nearly impossible, especially for vulnerable populations.

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