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How PHO’s tuberculosis work is making a difference

Tuberculosis culture - microscopy ZN stain
Tuberculosis culture:
microscopy ZN stain.

MGIT 960 TB culture instruments at Public Health Ontario Laboratories
MGIT 960 TB culture instruments at Public Health Ontario Laboratories.

Giant African pouched rat sniffing Tuberculosis
Giant African pouched rat sniffing Tuberculosis.

March 24 is World TB Day. TB, or tuberculosis, is one of the world’s greatest health threats. In 2011, the World Health Organization reported that 8.7 million people had TB and 1.4 million people died from the disease. In 2012, the WHO reported an estimated 450,000 new cases of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) in the world. That’s roughly five per cent of all new TB cases.

In Canada, despite low TB rates, Public Health Agency of Canada data show that nine cases of MDR-TB were recorded in 2012, out of a total of 1,404 new laboratory-confirmed TB cases. Ontario accounts for approximately 60 per cent of all MDR-TB cases, most of which occur in people born outside Canada.

With the increasing numbers of MDR-TB and extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) cases, combatting the disease is a considerable public health challenge. But one that Public Health Ontario is well equipped to meet. We operate the largest tuberculosis and mycobacteriology laboratory in North America, processing over 60,000 specimens every year - almost 95 per cent of the diagnostic testing and all of the reference testing for Ontario.

In addition to our leading laboratory practices and testing capacity, our researchers are dedicated to creating new tools and methodologies to address drug-resistant TB. Eradicating TB globally may not be achievable in the short-term but PHO research continues to be at the forefront of new technologies that better public health practices and make a difference in people’s lives.

Research in Action: Dr. Carolina Mehaffy
Probing the biological secrets of a clever adversary
Find out what one PHO scientist, microbiologist Dr. Carolina Mehaffy, is doing at the molecular level to address drug resistance and TB.

OUT-TB Web application
Tracking the spread of TB in real time
Medical microbiologist Dr. Fran Jamieson’s contributions to our understanding of TB and drug resistance with her work on the OUT-TB Web ​application project were recently honoured with a National LEADing practice by Canada Health Infoway.

Disease in Focus: Tuberculosis
PHO's Monthly Infectious Diseases Surveillance Report highlights one infectious disease of interest based on provincial epidemiology or situations of interest in surrounding jurisdictions. This March, we take a look at tuberculosis.

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Page last updated: 2014-03-24 10:40 AM
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