Monday, January 11, 2010

Now, infectious diseases

Today, all the leading killer infectious diseases on the planet -- TB, malaria and HIV among them -- are mutating at an alarming rate, hitchhiking their way in and out of countries. The reason: Overuse and misuse of the very drugs that were supposed to save us. . . . "Drug resistance is starting to be a very big problem. In the past, people stopped worrying about TB and it came roaring back. We need to make sure that doesn't happen again," said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who was himself infected with tuberculosis while caring for drug-resistant patients at a New York clinic in the early '90s. "We are all connected by the air we breathe, and that is why this must be everyone's problem." . . . About 60 million people visit the U.S. every year, and most are not screened for TB before arrival. Only refugees and those coming as immigrants are checked. The top category of multidrug-resistant patients in the U.S. -- 82 percent of the cases identified in 2007 -- was foreign-born patients, according to the CDC.

Why isn't everyone entering this country tested for infectious diseases?

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