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Poor and Immigrant Populations Carry Drug-Resistant Strains of Tuberculosis, Other Diseases

  • Reports of deadly drug-resistant diseases are on the rise in hospitals around the nation.
By Christopher J. Petherick

There is growing concern over an epidemic of drug-resistant diseases. Those quietly expressing fear are the most likely to come in contact with them on the frontline -- doctors, nurses and other health care workers.

With the number of reported cases of diseases such as tuberculosis and hepatitis C on the rise, caring for the sick has become a frightening undertaking. In major cities around the United States, nurses and doctors are facing highly-contagious and deadly diseases with only an ultra-thin layer of latex standing between them and infection.

Health care workers regularly receive testing, but, according to an emergency room nurse in Virginia, in today's hospitals, they eventually must face the inevitability of testing positive to some sort of viral or bacterial infection that they may carry for life.

Tuberculosis (TB) is one such disease.

Once thought to be eradicated, TB is now making a strong comeback and is once again considered a public health threat.

TB is a bacterial infection that proliferates in the lungs. Symptoms include coughing, sneezing, chest pains, chills, fever and even death. Many people who catch the disease don't show any symptoms, though symptoms may develop later if not treated.

Testing for TB is usually done by x-ray or injecting live bacteria under the skin. A "positive" reaction indicates infection. Health care workers have quietly said that every time a person is tested, he stands about a one-in-ten chance of contracting the disease.

The Washington, D.C. area, much like the rest of the United States, has seen an incredible influx of immigration from Third World countries. Politicians will not admit it, but this increase has also brought a rise in the number of cases of tuberculosis to the region.

According to health care workers, many of the people, who test positive for tuberculosis and commence treatment, stop taking the full course of drugs when they begin to feel better. Often, the tuberculosis returns, but this time resistant to drugs.

This drug-resistant strain can then be passed on to others, including the doctors and nurses who are trying to treat patients. TB becomes exceedingly difficult to treat as allopathic medicine runs out of effective drugs and options.

Hepatitis C is also 0on the rise. But what used to be a disease that affected mostly intravenous drug users, has now spread, too.

Hepatitis C is an extremely hardy virus that attacks the liver and can result in cirrhosis, liver failure and even death. It is transmitted by blood and there is no known cure.

The only allopathic treatment for hepatitis C is an extremely torturous and painful course of an immuno-boosting drub called Interferon.

Nearly 4 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with hepatitis C, more than any other blood-borne disease, including HIV, according to the Centers for Disease Control.