EXTREME TB Strain Brought Into USA
A female patient with an extremely hard-to-treat form of tuberculosis is being treated at the National Institutes of Health outside Washington D.C., and federal and state officials are now tracking down hundreds of people who may have been in contact with her.
The woman traveled to at least three states before she sought treatment from a U.S. doctor. While TB is not easily caught by casual contact, extensively drug resistant (XDR) TB is so dangerous that health officials will have to make a concerted effort to warn anyone who may be at risk.
“The patient was transferred to the NIH via special air and ground ambulances,” the NIH said in a statement.
“The patient is staying in an isolation room in the NIH Clinical Center specifically designed for handling patients with respiratory infections, including XDR-TB. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the NIH, is providing care and treatment for the patient in connection with an existing NIH clinical protocol for treating TB, including XDR forms. NIAID has treated other XDR-TB patients in the past under this protocol,” the NIH said.
These special isolation rooms usually control air flow to prevent germs from escaping into the rest of the hospital or outside.
The patient, who isn’t being identified in any way, may face months or even years of treatment. Ordinary TB is hard to treat and requires, at a minimum, weeks of antibiotics. XDR-TB resists the effects of almost all the known TB drugs. Sometimes patients have to have pockets of infection surgically removed.
Only about a third to half of cases can even be cured. More