Tuberculosis, the world’s second most deadly infectious disease after AIDS and a disease that killed 1.5 million people last year, has an increased infection rate of 300 percent for sufferers of diabetes, which killed 3 million people last year. The two pose a “looming” threat of a world-wide co-epidemic, warned a report by the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease and the World Diabetes Foundation (UNION). The report was presented at the 45th World Conference on Lung Health in Barcelona Wednesday.
“Diabetes is fueling the spread of TB,” wrote UNION.
“This is largely because diabetes rates are skyrocketing around the world, and having diabetes increases the risk that a person will become sick with TB.”
Health professionals have noted a growing link between the two diseases, but the mechanisms are not fully understood.
“Successfully addressing TB-diabetes therefore requires a coordinated response to both diseases at all levels of the health system.”
Worldwide, 347 million people have diabedes, and nine million people contract TB per year. Three million diabedes die per year, while 1.5 million people died of TB last year. The numbers are on the increase, as drug-resistant and multidrug-resistant TB are increasingly becomming the common forms of the disease.
The report by the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease and the World Diabetes Foundation also found that more people live with a combination of TB and diabedes than TB and AIDS–a more commonly-known disease combination, and one which has allowed TB to spread quickly. Of those people infected with HIV, one-fourth die of TB.
The report, the authors wrote, was “a call to action to address this threat before it takes a larger toll in death and disability as well as economic impact–and before we see the gains made against TB in the past decade rolled back by diabetes.
“TB-diabetes is a looming co-epidemic that we need to address now, before it has a chance to take root in countries and cause sickness and death on a large scale.”
By Heidi Woolf