Friday, 29 May 2020

TB eradication update – WHO

There’s an interesting article in Biotechniques, looing at progress with the World Health Organizations tuberculosis eradication strategy. Here is an extract:

Active TB infection is defined by the presence of clinical symptoms, such as cough, fever and weight loss, as well as positive microbial cultures for acid-fast bacteria. Due to widespread dissemination throughout the body, patient infection is defined as pulmonary or extra-pulmonary TB infection.

Globally, 3.4% of all new cases, and 18% of previously treated TB patients, possess drug-resistant bacteria. Therefore, active TB infection is also classified by the degree to which the bacteria are resistant to antibiotic combinations. Quick identification of antibiotic resistance is key in preventing the development of further antibiotic resistance and restricting the morbidity associated with active TB infection. Furthermore, rapid initiation of treatment helps to limit the spread.

Early diagnosis and universal drug susceptibility testing are considered two of the main priorities of the WHO’s End TB Strategy. The current ‘gold standard’ rapid diagnostic test for TB is Xpert MTB/RIF (Cepheid Inc., CA, USA). The diagnostic utilizes real-time PCR technologies via a cartridge-based system. Samples of varying types, including sputum, lymph node aspirate and cerebrospinal fluid, can be taken to diagnose both pulmonary and extrapulmonary infection, with the results detecting both the bacteria and ripanfacin-resistance – the surrogate marker for multi-drug resistant TB. Xpert MTB/RIF is cost-effective and also has proven utility for targeted testing of individuals, for example in prisons where TB burden and risk of cross-infection is high.

The article can be viewed here:  

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology Resources (

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