TB Rat

Les espoirs de 2017 en santé mondiale

HONG KONG – En rétrospective de 2016, il semble y avoir peu à fêter. En santé mondiale seulement, l’année est apparue comme une succession sans fin de catastrophes. Outre les reportages d’hôpitaux dans des zones de conflit subissant des bombardements, le virus Zika est devenu une menace grandissante. Il y a aussi eu la prolifération de microbes résistants aux antibiotiques, ou « superbactéries », la reprise confirmée de la fièvre jaune et la résurgence de la poliomyélite au Nigeria, qui venait d’être retiré de la liste des pays où le virus de la poliomyélite est considéré comme endémique. Les espoirs d’un vaccin contre les infections du virus respiratoire syncytial ont été déçus. Et en Europe, l’incidence de décès causés par l’alcool a augmenté.

Toutefois, malgré les mauvaises nouvelles de 2016, certains développements encourageants sont survenus en matière de santé mondiale.

Le premier s’est produit en Tanzanie et au Mozambique, où APOPO, une ONG belge qui organisait le dressage de rats géants africains dans le but de détecter des mines terrestres, les a adaptés à la lutte contre la tuberculose. Ces rats ont suivi un protocole de dressage intensif, dans lequel ils sont soumis à divers stimuli. Ils apprennent à interagir avec les humains et à déceler des échantillons d’expectorations contaminées par la tuberculose (le mucus expectoré par les voies respiratoires inférieures). Ces rats sont en mesure de détecter la présence de tuberculose avec une précision de presque 100 %, mais ils ne peuvent distinguer entre les souches normales et celles qui résistent aux médicaments.

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