The deadliest infectious disease is becoming drug-resistant


The UN General Assembly held its first high-level meeting on tuberculosis.

Tuberculosis (TB) isn’t a disease Americans hear about much about these days, but that’s not true for the rest of the world. TB is currently the deadliest infectious disease, responsible for 1.6 million deaths last year, most of them in the developing world.

And that’s not the scariest part. A rapidly growing number of patients are developing drug-resistant tuberculosis, which kills more people than any other drug-resistant pathogen.

The persistence of TB is the reason the United Nations General Assembly held its first high-level meeting on tuberculosis Wednesday, which experts hope will trigger an influx of cash and attention for the treatment and diagnosis of a neglected disease.

“In the developed world, people weren’t seeing it, and that’s where most research occurs,” says Dr. Eric Goosby, the United Nations special envoy on TB, on why the disease has received comparatively so little attention. “It was something you taught medical students but didn’t really see in the United States or Canada.”