Xpert TB diagnostic could substantially raise number of confirmed TB cases

Medical experts recently warned countries planning to use a new diagnostic test for tuberculosis that they should be prepared to see a dramatic rise in their number of TB cases.

The new test, called Xpert, uses a computerized procedure that can produce results in less than two hours. It is also considered more accurate than conventional testing, according to

The test is currently being used in a pilot program located in the Vizianagaram district of India. The program is slated to run two years before the test could be used throughout the country, but early results are considered promising.

"The new test detects all forms of TB including drug resistance, which is difficult in the conventional procedure. The numbers of cases detected are also expected to rise," District TB control officer Dr. Sashidhar Kumar said, reports.

Experts noted that in the long-term, the test could bring TB numbers down because early detection of TB cases could prevent transmission of the highly-contagious illness. The risk for transmission increases greatly if treatment is not administered within a short time of infection.

The World Health Organization recently said that it expects the number of drug-resistant TB cases to continue to increase in the near future, as well as the number of TB cases with co-infection by HIV/AIDS.