WHO: Better definitions of TB needed

World TB Day is on 24 March 2012The World Health Organisation (WHO) has updated its advice on the diagnosis of drug resistant tuberculosis (TB) following reports of a new type of TB in India. WHO says that it is actually just a “new iterant” of the disease but that definitions of “totally drug-resistant” (TDR) TB need to be better.

There are different types of TB – “multi drug-resistant” (MDR) TB, which doesn’t respond to first line and some second line drugs, and “extremely drug-resistant” (XDR) TB, a highly resistant type of TB that does not respond to first or second line drugs.

The concept of “totally drug-resistant” TB is not currently well-understood and, as yet, WHO has not officially recognised this term.

WHO is organising an Expert Group Meeting in March, 2012 to assess the latest evidence and possible definitions of “totally drug-resistant” TB.

Many Australians are of the view that TB is no longer an issue but increased travel in and out of the country brings it closer to our doorstep. The disease, which affects hundreds of millions around the world, has been identified by WHO as one of its major priorities.

Centenary Institute is honoured to house the largest TB research group in Australasia and is responsible for being the only facility in Australia permitted to work with experimental TB infection. Our researchers are part of a global effort to reduce the incidence and impact of the disease.

To meet the Centenary researchers who work in the area of TB, please click here.