Thu, Sep 17, 2015 - Page 3 News List

MDR-TB cases linked to immigrants

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Three of the six cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) identified this year have been brought into the nation by Chinese immigrant spouses, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said yesterday.

CDC physician Chan Pei-chun (詹珮君) said cases of MDR-TB account for approximately 1 percent of the average 10,000 new cases of tuberculosis recorded each year in Taiwan, adding that MDR-TB is defined by patients’ resistance to two primary effective anti-tuberculosis drugs — isoniazid and rifampicin.

Citing an annual report on tuberculosis released by the WHO last year, the CDC said China reported about 54,300 new cases of MDR-TB in 2013, accounting for 5.7 percent of its new tuberculosis cases that year.

Chan said among the three Chinese immigrant spouses detected with MDR-TB this year, a 36-year-old woman was confirmed with extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) — a relatively rare type of MDR-TB that is even more difficult to treat because of its resistance to even more types of drugs.

The XDR-TB infected woman had received MDR-TB treatment for four years (between 2009 and 2013) and underwent surgery in China before immigrating to Taiwan in 2012, Chan said, adding that the woman is now undergoing monitored treatment in a negative pressure isolation room.

Chan said the cure rate of MDR-TB in Taiwan is about 82 percent, but if the virus evolves into XDR-TB, the cure rate drops to about 50 percent, and the treatment process might take up to two years.

The CDC’s data showed a total of 308 confirmed cases of Chinese immigrant spouses infected by tuberculosis, between 2011 and July this year, with exchanges between China and Taiwan becoming more frequent,

Chan said the CDC has participated in two meetings with Chinese health departments this month and is hoping to improve the treatment of Chinese immigrants infected by tuberculosis and prevent further spread of the virus by exchanging information on identified cases.

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