We don't know too much about a Nepalese man who's in medical isolation in Texas while being treated for extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis, or XDR-TB, the most difficult-to-treat kind. Health authorities are keen to protect his privacy.
But we do know that he traveled through 13 countries — from South Asia to somewhere in the Persian Gulf to Latin America — before he entered the U.S. illegally from Mexico in late November. He traveled by plane, bus, boat, car and on foot.
The people on the front lines of tuberculosis control have their hands full, but their biggest challenge for the moment may be containing strains of the disease that are resistant to drugs.
Worldwide the number of TB cases is going down. The bad news is that the number of drug-resistant cases is going up. The World Health Organization estimates that the number of reported TB cases that were multi, extremely- or totally-drug resistant doubled between 2009 and 2011.
The first new tuberculosis drug approved in 40 years by the U.S Food and Drug Administration was tested by scientists at Colorado State University. The FDA has given initially approval this week for the drug bedaquiline to be used to treat multidrug-resistant tuberculosis.