Updated guidelines for treating latent TB released

New guidelines for the treatment of latent tuberculosis were recently issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The guidelines, intended for use by public health officials and health care providers, would shorten and simplify TB treatment, which currently takes approximately nine months but could soon be shortened to three, according to USA Today.

The changes are the result of efforts by experts that included three clinical trials, all aimed at streamlining the process so that more people followed it through to completion. The nine month regimen typically requires 270 daily doses of the anti-TB drug isoniazid, which many begin but often do not see through to the end.

Now, the CDC is recommending 12 once-per-week doses of isoniazid, along with another anti-TB drug called rifapentine.

“This regimen has the potential to be a game-changer in the United States when it comes to fighting TB," CDC Director Thomas Frieden said, USA Today reports. "It gives us a new, effective option that will reduce by two-thirds - from nine months to three months - the length of time someone needs to take medicine to prevent latent TB infection from progressing to active TB disease.

"It is critical that we accelerate progress against TB in the United States in order to avoid a resurgence of the disease."

The new guidelines appear in the December 9 issue of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.