TB threat to Australia

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Thank you for the compelling article on the rise of antibiotic resistance “Losing the bug wars: the waning power of antibiotics” (July 3).

It was curious that the author did not mention the growing concerns regarding drug resistant tuberculosis. TB, in its drug resistant form, makes up one-third of all antimicrobial resistant deaths. Importantly it is the only major airborne infectious drug resistant infection, meaning that a person infected with drug resistant TB can infect others simply by coughing, sneezing or even laughing.

While TB is by and large not a disease of the Western world, it is nonetheless the world’s leading infectious disease killer – greater than HIV, malaria and ebola combined. Most of the world’s TB and some of the highest rates of drug resistant TB are in the Asia Pacific region, so this is a genuine health security issue for Australia.

With standard TB treatment still taking six months to cure and drug resistant TB only having a 50 per cent cure rate, is it any wonder that we are well and truly struggling to win the war on TB? Australian aid is contributing to the global effort to develop better tools to combat drug resistant TB and it is estimated that global investment of $1.3 billion annually is required.

RESULTS International (Australia)