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Cómo ganarle la guerra a la tuberculosis

SEATTLE – Los seres humanos han luchado contra la tuberculosis desde la Edad de Piedra. Pero recién en el siglo pasado se hizo un verdadero progreso contra la enfermedad. Una vacuna, utilizada por primera vez en seres humanos en 1921, hoy sigue en uso en todo el mundo. Y una serie de antibióticos, empezando por la estreptomicina en los años 1940, han demostrado ser efectivos en el tratamiento de las infecciones.

Desde 1990, la tasa de mortalidad anual como consecuencia de la tuberculosis se ha reducido prácticamente a la mitad. De 2000 a 2014, mejores diagnósticos y tratamientos salvaron unos 43 millones de vidas. Sin embargo, el progreso se ha vuelto extremadamente lento, lo que sugiere que la batalla está lejos de haber terminado. La caída anual de los casos en los últimos diez años ha sido apenas del 1,65%; en 2014, la tuberculosis mató a 1,5 millón de personas.

Mientras tanto, hay cepas de la enfermedad que están desarrollando una resistencia al tratamiento. El mal uso y la mala administración de los antibióticos han resultado en una tuberculosis resistente a múltiples drogas. Estas cepas se deben tratar con medicamentos de segunda línea, que son más costosos y muchas veces causan peores efectos colaterales. También aparecieron cepas que son resistentes a los fármacos de segunda línea, conocidas como tuberculosis extremadamente resistente (XDR-TB por su sigla en inglés).

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