Disease Deemed 'Airborne Cancer' Could Kill 75 Million People By 2050

Contrary to popular belief, Tuberculosis is still around and still deadly. Medical research indicates the disease could claim the lives of 75 million by 2050.

There’s a common misconception about Tuberculosis which is that it’s a disease of the past that has been largely eradicated, but … that’s not quite true.

Medical research actually indicates that the deadly bacterial disease could claim the lives of 75 million people by 2050.

Read More: TB Patient Charged In California For Not Taking Meds

"Tuberculosis is the disease we thought HIV would be in the '80s. A disease you could get and die from that was aerosolized and spread through the air," Eric Goosby, the U.N. special envoy on tuberculosis, said at a United Nations Foundation briefing back in July.

"With TB, you can get it standing in a line when you go to the grocery store or standing in line for the movies," he added.

Disease Deemed 'Airborne Cancer' Could Kill 75 Million People By 2050

About one-third of the world’s population is infected with tuberculosis, but many have resilient immune systems that can fight off the bacteria. Others – about 10% of people infected – end up with a terrible cough, fatigue, weakness and weight loss or even worse, lose their lives.

A newer, more dangerous strand of the disease called “multidrug-resistant TB” or MDR-TB has been referred to as “airborne cancer,” The Huffington Post reports. Standard treatment drugs don’t work and only about 10% of people with MDR-TB receive proper treatment.

This means, 90% of others affected by MDR-TB are going untreated and undoubtedly infecting others. Seventy-five million additional people will lose their lives over the next 35 years as a result of MDR-TB, a United Kingdom government report predicted.

"Ultimately we have to recognize that TB is a global problem," Dr. David Dowdy, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University, reportedly said. "Unless we make strides in addressing MDR-TB worldwide, we're not going to be able to completely control MDR-TB in the U.S."

The only available MDR-TB treatment is extremely expensive, and in order to potentially find new treatments is by having more funding for research – which is where the government comes in.

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One case of MDR-TB can exhaust a local health department's entire budget, said Dr. Philip LoBue, who runs the CDC's Division of Tuberculosis Elimination. That's without considering the price volatility of MDR-TB drugs, which is caused by shortages and manufacturer manipulation, according to The Huffington Post.

There's little economic incentive to develop treatments for MDR-TB. The vast majority of patients are in low- to middle-income countries where drug companies can't charge as much for drugs and there's very little political capital to gain by funding TB research in the U.S. 

We're not trying to scare you here, just incentivize you to keep up with your health and be aware.

This doesn't mean you have to stay away from festivals or theme parks or wear doctors masks every place you go ... we're not trying to live in paranoia here, but don't be oblivious to what's floating in the air. 

Banner Photo Credit: Tumblr - EarthStrong

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