Harvard Medicine News spoke to Dr. Jennifer Furin to learn more about the situation in the island province of Daru, just north of Australia in the southwestern Pacific.
HMN: What’s happening on Daru?
JF: Currently, on Daru Island in Papua New Guinea, there is a significant and ongoing outbreak of MDR-TB. It is spreading throughout the country and could possibly move to Australia.
HMN: How does it compare to other outbreaks globally?
JF: Conservative estimates show that 1 percent of the population of Daru is sick with MDR-TB. This translates to about 150 cases per year in a population of 15,000. As a point of comparison, an outbreak on nearby Chuuk Island, one that the CDC was able to get under control, had 26 cases in a population of 108,000.
In one community in South Africa, Khayelitsha, there are about 200 MDR-TB cases a year, with a population of about 400,000 and an HIV prevalence above 20 percent.
Since Daru has almost no HIV—which greatly increases the risk of contracting MDR-TB—the number of cases there is even more staggering.
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