LOS ANGELES, March 21 (UPI) — Tuberculosis cases are falling dramatically in the United States, but drug-resistant strains of the disease are rising in other areas of the world, reports say.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported U.S. cases of the disease fell by 11.8 percent in 2009, the largest yearly drop since monitoring began in 1953, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.
But the World Health Organization reported an estimated 440,000 people contracted multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis in 2008, and a third of them died, the newspaper said.
About half of those cases were in China and India, the countries hardest hit in the outbreak. But in some parts of the world, 25 percent of cases are from the drug-resistant strains, WHO said.
Experts worry the hard-to-treat strains will overtake conventional strains of the TB mycobacterium, complicating treatment. Drugs to treat conventional TB cost about $20, and treatment takes six months. Drug-resistant strains can push the cost to as much as $500, and effective treatment can take up to two years, the Times reported.
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