WHO says TB in Russia displays highest known drug-resistance

The World Health Organization recently announced that tuberculosis cases found in Moldova, Belarus and Russia display the highest levels of drug-resistance known.

The WHO, however, said that its data remain somewhat incomplete. Africa and India are thought to have higher TB rates, but were not included in their entirety in a newly released study. Experts said that rates of multi drug-resistant TB remain unknown or are unclear in many parts of the world, according to USA Today.

Research published in Bulletin, the WHO's medical journal, reported that in some places in Russia, 29 percent of new TB cases are drug resistant.

Rates of MDR-TB in Minsk, Belarus, are thought to be approaching 50 percent of cases, but the WHO warned that reliable surveillance data is lacking, a situation it called "highly worrisome," USA Today reports.

The TB situation in Moldova is becoming increasingly more troubling. WHO research found 65 percent of previously untreated TB patients are infected with strains that are resistant.

The WHO's Global Project on Anti-tuberculosis Drug Resistance Surveillance was launched in 1994 and has generated what the WHO considers to be the most reliable TB drug-resistance estimates available for 127 countries.

Experts agree that continued surveillance will be critical in fighting MDR-TB, especially as the growing reservoir of resistant cases start to pose a challenge to national TB programs.