African Mining May Be Driving TB Epidemic: Study
June 4, 2010
Along with diamonds, gold, and other precious metals, Africa's mines help to produce a significant number of the continent's tuberculosis cases, according to researchers from Britain and the United States.
Poor living and working conditions for the largely transient mine workers increase their risk of TB and the chance they will spread the disease as they commute back and forth from home, says a report in the American Journal of Public Health.
"Improving living and health care conditions for miners may be necessary not only for the miners but for controlling tuberculosis epidemics throughout sub-Saharan Africa," said lead author Dr. David Stuckler, of the Oxford University department of sociology.
The researchers said mining may contribute to an estimated 760,000 new cases of TB each year in Africa, a continent with, the World Health Organization estimates, about 2.8 million new cases each year. In sub-Saharan Africa, the annual incidence of TB doubled between 1990 and 2007, from 173 to 351 per 100,000 population.
When countries reduced their mining activity, TB rates were attenuated compared to nearby countries in which mining was stable or growing, the study showed.
The region's high rate of HIV is another factor driving the TB epidemic. HIV contributes to the risk of TB by weakening a person's immune system. The risk associated with mining is thought to come from poor living conditions around the mines and the silica dust associated with mining. Gold mining, in particular, generates high levels of the dust, the researchers said.
The full report, "Mining and Risk of Tuberculosis in Sub-Saharan Africa," was published in the American Journal of Public Health (2010; doi:10.2105/AJPH.2009.175646).
06.01.2010; Kate Kelland
Early Treatment Outcomes and HIV Status of Patients With Extensively Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis in South Africa: A Retrospective Cohort Study
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