309. today's black plague

Yeah, haven’t been blogging lately.

But I will…soon.

In the meantime, just want to say that I’m writing from lovely, balmy Hawaii. More on that in a post to come.

And I wanted to call your attention to a website that aims to tackle the problem of XDR-TB – extensively drug resistant tuberculosis.

It’s a pandemic waiting to happen and while I normally try to refrain from making the-sky-is-falling type statements, in this case it could very well happen. Here’s why this issue has my boxers up in a twist:

1.The World Health Organization estimates that one person in three in the world today is infected with TB.
2. The average person infected with TB will likely spread it to 10-15 people per year.
3. This person might not even know he/she is sick.
4. The disease is most common in areas that lack the financial resources to prevent, diagnose, treat, and/or educate people about the illness.
5. Drug resistant strains of TB develop when treatment is mismanaged (not uncommon in these low-income, often third-world-type countries).
6. If this treatment mismanagement continues, a patient’s TB can mutate into a from that is basically untreatable – it becomes resistant to any/all drugs thrown at it.
7. Because TB infects the lungs and can be spread through the air, it is HIGHLY contagious.
8. If XDR-TB becomes widespread (not unlikely) and makes its way into densely populated, industrialized nations (also not unlikely), we could very well become today’s black plague or Spanish Flu. And a highly mutated form of XDR-TB that is able to infect people who were immunized against TB while young is not out of the question.

The really sad fact of the matter is when it comes to TB, an ounce of prevention is worth a king-kong-ton of cure. The vaccine is not expensive. But a poor country is a poor country and for them, even inexpensive drugs are out of reach (not to mention problems of infrastructure and distribution).

But we’re not a poor country (not yet). The money spent in one day in Iraq (hell, a few hours of that would probably be enough) could wipe the problem of TB off the face of the earth.

Anyway, take a look at this video. Sign up on their site. Make your voice heard. Make a difference.

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