Russian doctors worry about TB rates

Senior Russian health officials recently announced that the number of Russians with tuberculosis has doubled over the last 15 years.

The sobering statistic is troubling to Russian doctors, who are also seeing a rise in the number of cases of drug-resistant TB, according to RIA Novosti.

"Russia ranks 13th on the list of countries with the highest tuberculosis infection rates," Valentina Aksyonova, Russia's top TB doctor from the ministry of health, said, RIA Novosti reports. "There are over 240,000 patients with active forms of TB, four percent of them are children. Tuberculosis is to blame for 12.2 percent of deaths from infection in Russia."

Aksyonova, who made the comments to reporters in Vladovostok, said that TB infection rates in the city are 2.5 times the national average. There are 3,000 new cases reported in the city, the largest in the Primorye Oblast, every year.

Health officials said that Russian TB rates are high because many Russians neglect their health and skip medical exams. Also, parents often refuse to vaccinate their children because they fear side effects. The number of children with TB has doubled over the last decade.

"Parents don't realize that by refusing vaccination, they expose their children to dangerous forms of TB," Aksyonova said, RIA Novosti reports.