In the time it takes to read this article, half a dozen people will have died from tuberculosis (TB). It is a cruel and persistent killer, claiming 1.8 million lives each year, an estimated 200,000 of which are children, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Considering the gravity of those numbers, it’s even more alarming to know that many cases go unreported. “Tuberculosis is the most prevalent infectious disease that the world has seen, based on the number of people infected and the number of resulting fatalities,” said Jeff Schorey (photo), Ph.D., George B. Craig Jr. Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame, in a Notre Dame press release issued on World Tuberculosis Day, March 24, 2017. “It is the single leading cause of death by an infectious organism.” World Tuberculosis Day marks the official discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis by Dr. Robert Koch on March 24, 1882. But the infectious disease is considered to date back thousands of years. It causes death worldwide, primarily affecting low- and middle-income countries. Pulmonary TB can spread with a cough, infecting anyone in the vicinity. Patients require access to first-line drugs and face a six-month regimen of multiple antibiotics. An incomplete course of antibiotics poses an increased risk for developing multi-drug-resistant TB. “What you need for any infectious disease is a vaccine,” Dr. Schorey said. “In the absence of that, you need dependable and effective drugs with minimal side-effects, if at all. You also need reliable diagnostics to determine who needs to be treated.” Research plays a vital role in the fight to end the tuberculosis epidemic. Dr.
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