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Drug Resistance: AP Investigates A Globe Health Threat

Drug Resistance: AP Investigates A Globe Health Threat

Picture of Barbara Feder Ostrov

Drug-resistant infections are one of the world's biggest emerging health problems, but they don't seem to get much sustained media attention except when there's an outbreak of MRSA. That's why a new series of articles on drug resistance around the world, based on a six-month investigation by Associated Press reporters Margie Mason and Martha Mendoza, is so welcome. You can see a list of the stories, published in the Washington Post and many other media outlets, here.

Here's an excerpt from their first story, which broke the news of the first U.S. case of so-called extremely drug-resistant tuberculosis:

Forty years ago, the world thought it had conquered TB and any number of other diseases through the new wonder drugs: Antibiotics. U.S. Surgeon General William H. Stewart announced it was "time to close the book on infectious diseases and declare the war against pestilence won."

Today, all the leading killer infectious diseases on the planet - TB, malaria and HIV among them - are mutating at an alarming rate, hitchhiking their way in and out of countries. The reason: Overuse and misuse of the very drugs that were supposed to save us.

Noting that drug-resistant infections killed more than 65,000 Americans in 2008, the AP investigation also examines a new drug-resistant form of malaria in Cambodia, new drug-resistant strains of HIV in Africa, American agricultural practices that lead to antibiotic resistance, and how health policy in Norway helped nearly eradicate MRSA.

I'll be interviewing Martha Mendoza about the series on Thursday morning and will post our Q&A shortly after that. In the meantime, check out ReportingonHealth's essay by veteran health reporter Jane E. Allen on responsibly covering MRSA outbreaks and our guide to the best online information and sources for covering MRSA.

Related Posts:

When Drugs Stop Working: Q&A with the AP's Martha Mendoza

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