Drug-Resistant TB a ‘Ticking Bomb,’ Warns WHO

Half-a-million infected people threaten to spread the potent strand of tuberculosis further

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Jayanta Dey / Reuters

A patient suffering from Tuberculosis rests inside a hospital in Agartala, capital of India's northeastern state of Tripura, March 24, 2009.

The World Health Organization (WHO) warns of a “ticking time bomb” as tuberculosis is getting increasingly resistant to antibiotics.

According to the WHO, almost 500,000 people have a type of TB that is resistant to at least two of the main drugs used to treat the disease. And since most of those infected are not diagnosed, they are spreading this deadly strand to more people every day, reports the BBC.

A rampant misuse of antibiotics has led to the bacteria’s increasing resistance, which has mainly affected China, Russia and India.

“What could happen is progressively multi-drug resistant TB takes over from normal tuberculosis,” says Dr. Mario Raviglione, director of the WHO’s Global TB program. “If this happens, not only would millions of patients potentially die of this form of TB, but if I look at it from an economic perspective the cost of dealing with millions of potential cases is enormous.”