Multi drug-resistant TB reported at alarming levels worldwide

Tuberculosis capable of resisting as many as four powerful antibiotic drugs has been reported by scientists at alarming levels in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America recently.

According to a study published in the journal Lancet on Thursday, rates of both multi drug-resistant TB and extensively drug-resistant TB were found to be higher than previously thought and a threat to global efforts to stop the spread of the disease, Reuters reports.

"Most international recommendations for TB control have been developed for MDR-TB prevalence of up to around five percent," Sven Hoffner of the Swedish Institute for Communicable Disease Control, said, Reuters reports. "Yet now we face prevalence up to 10 times higher in some places, where almost half of the patients...are transmitting MDR strains."

Tuberculosis infected 8.8 million people in 2010, killing 1.4 million of the infected. Additionally, drug-resistant TB is more difficult to control than normal TB and more costly.

MDR-TB, which is resistant to the isoniazid and rifampicin first-line drugs, and XDR-TB, which is resistant to both those drugs, the fluoroquinolone antibiotic and second-line injectable antibiotics, are more likely to kill an infected person than regular TB, according to Reuters.

XDR-TB has been reported in at least 77 countries worldwide, the CDC reports.

"As more individuals are diagnosed with, and treated for, drug-resistant TB, more resistance to second-line drugs is expected to emerge," the CDC's Tracy Dalton said, according to Reuters.