U.S. not immune to TB threat, policy consultant says

There is relatively little interest about tuberculosis in the United States because there is a perception that this is just a developing world issue, says Tevi Troy, a writer and consultant on health care and domestic policy

“Unfortunately, we in the U.S. are vulnerable as well,” especially to multidrug-resistant and extensively drug resistant strains of TB, “and it is important for us to be more aware of the problem.”

Although the Bacille Calmette-Guerin vaccine has been effective in preventing TB for more than 80 years, Troy noted, “public health officials always need more tools in their toolbox when fighting deadly diseases.”

One candidate for that toolbox is MVA85A, which is a vaccine developed at Oxford University that is in a Phase II-B clinical trial in South Africa.

“A new vaccine could have a number of potential advantages, including extending the protection period offered against TB and the capability of being used against immuno-suppressed people.

“This is especially important as HIV-positive individuals are particularly vulnerable to TB,” which most often attacks the lungs once it becomes an active infection.

“While TB is a bigger problem in the developing world, it has become increasingly problematic in the U.S. and Europe, especially among immigrants, health care workers, and people with HIV/AIDS.”

Troy is a visiting senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington D.C., which is a nonpartisan policy research organization dedicated to innovative research and analysis that promotes global security, prosperity and freedom.