More preventive tuberculosis treatment should reduce cases in non-US-born

he researchers surmised that the bacterial strain was one that was spreading among people in the New York area. When the DNA fingerprint was unique, the strain that was likely causing the disease was doing so through reactivation of a latent infection. The researchers found that the foreign-born were 2.5 times more likely to have a unique strain and, therefore, a reactivation of a latent infection acquired long ago.

The study results imply that treating latent infections would reduce the number of active infections among the non-U.S.-born and Dr. Schluger is now studying ways to improve the treatment of latent infections. The traditional protocol to treat latent infections lasts nine months and requires the patient to take 270 doses of the antibiotic isoniazid, a regimen that patients have difficulty complying with. In a study sponsored by the Tuberculosis Trial Consortium, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-funded organization Dr. Schluger chairs, patients will get a 12-dose regimen with two antibiotics, isoniazid and rifapentine, for a three-month period. From a public health standpoint you can really make an impact with a shorter regimen because patients will continue the treatments, Dr. Schluger says.

But targeting latent TB cases in the United States is not sufficient to solve the problem, Dr. Schluger says. You cannot eliminate the TB problem in the United States without looking at the disease outside our borders, Dr. Schluger says. We should be heavily involved in reducing TB around the world.

The study was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health.

Other Columbia University Health Sciences researchers who participated in the research were Elvin Geng, a medical student at Columbias College of Physicians & Surgeons and a graduate student in the Mailman School of Public Health; Dr. Joseph Burzynski, instructor in clinical medicine; Dr. Phy

Contact: Annie Bayne
Columbia University Medical Center

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