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Drug-Resistant TB Hits Britain

Genetics leads to new hope for treatment

Great Britain has been hit by one of the worst outbreaks of a drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis (TB), the BBC News reports.

So far, no deaths have been reported among the 59 people afflicted with the disease. The report says tuberculosis kills about 2 million of the 8.5 million people infected each year around the world, hitting mostly in Africa, India, China and the republics of the former Soviet Union.

In South Africa, for instance, the number of cases has doubled in some areas, particularly in poor regions, the BBC reports.

People with TB don't necessarily feel ill, though they are likely to have a persistent cough, feel tired and lose appetite and weight. In the disease's later stages, victims suffer fever and night sweats and cough up blood.

British scientists have raised hopes for a new way to treat antibiotic-resistant TB. Drugs used to treat fungal infections might also prove useful against tuberculosis because the researchers have found a genetic similarity between the TB bacterium and fungi, this BBC story reports.

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