Drug-resistant tuberculosis in South Africa seems to be spreading by infected persons passing the disease to others, reports Healio. 

A prospective study of hundreds of patients in one hard-hit South African province showed that inadequate treatment accounted for — at most — 31% of the cases of extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB), the deadliest form of the disease.

According to Neel R. Gandhi, MD, associate professor of epidemiology in the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, and colleagues, the remaining XDR-TB cases in KwaZulu-Natal, a province on South Africa’s east coast, were the result of transmission in either the hospital or community setting.

Gandhi and colleagues said the results suggest controlling the South African epidemic starts with interrupting transmission.

“In the interval since XDR tuberculosis was first described globally and in South Africa, the XDR tuberculosis epidemic in South Africa has continued unabated,” they wrote in The New England Journal of Medicine.

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