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Friday, August 16, 2013

Europe grapples with tuberculosis resurgence

A study by German health economists is raising alarms in Europe, over a potential economic cataclysm facing the continent. Cases of tuberculosis [TB] are on the rise in Europe, and the costs associated with fighting it are at crisis levels. Currently the treatments alone are estimated at €500 million ($655 million), with lost productivity rising to €5.2 billion ($7 billion). Researchers warn that these costs will continue to expand if no action to taken.

The price-tag for defending against this (once-considered 'eradicated') infectious disease has been growing due the emergence of drug-resistant versions of the virus. The current vaccines and medicines have no effect on the mutated strains of TB, causing scientists to implore both public and private-sector entities to expand development of new treatments.

According to the World Health Organization [WHO], TB killed 1.4 million people in 2011 alone, with total global cases estimated at 8.7 million. The WHO fears that by 2015 there will be at least 2 million cases of the mutated strains, which - if left unchecked - could eventually overwhelm the capabilities of health-care professionals on a global scale.

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