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Tuberculosis Spreading in Surprising Ways


The tale of the TB bacteria's survival is awe-inspiring to Kent A. Sepkowitz, an infectious disease specialist with Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Sepkowitz, who wrote an editorial in the same issue of the journal, also notes that not enough is known about how TB is transmitted. He agrees with Johnson that more research is necessary to determine the extent to which medical waste workers might contract TB.

Peter Small, MD, lead researcher at the Stanford Center for Tuberculosis Research in Palo Alto, Calif., tells WebMD this report is a useful warning about the need for vigilance in TB elimination.

"If you take it at face value, it looks like a pretty isolated event," says Small, who was not involved in this report. "But unusual modes of transmission will become more important and more obvious as we move into the elimination phase of TB, and as the rates are declining. I think we need to start paying attention to the more uncommon method of transmisson if we are serious about elimination." Small is also an assistant professor of medicine at Stanford University Medical Center.

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