Study: Diabetics at higher risk of tuberculosis infection

NEW YORK — Researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston found that patients with diabetes are at higher risk of contracting tuberculosis, a deadly bacterial disease, than nondiabetics.

The study investigators discovered among 233 patients that were diagnosed with TB between March 2006 and March 2008 — which included 61 patients in southern Texas and 172 in northeastern Mexico — 25% of TB cases were attributed to the presence of diabetes, while 6% of TB cases were caused by HIV.

"With the increase in diabetes patients in TB-endemic areas, our findings highlight the reemerging impact of diabetes mellitus, known as Type 2, on TB control in regions of the world where both diseases are prevalent," said Blanca Restrepo, lead investigator and associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Texas School of Public Health Brownsville Regional Campus, a part of UTHealth. "There is a need to focus on identifying the opportunities to prevent TB in diabetes patients."

"Physicians should be screening at-risk diabetic patients for TB, and patients should be aware of their diabetes status," Restrepo added. "Opportunities are being missed for patients and physicians to work together to manage both diseases."

The results of the study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health, were published in the May issue of the Bulletin of the World Health Organization.

"This research confirms results from several other studies showing an increased risk of TB in people with diabetes and means that it is important that clinicians actively seek to diagnose diabetes in people with TB and vice versa," said Knut Lonnroth, medical officer in the Stop TB department at the World Health Organization. "WHO and several partner organizations are in the process of finalizing a Collaborative Framework for Care and Control of Tuberculosis and Diabetes, which will guide countries on how to prepare health services for coordinated management and prevention, especially countries with high burden of both diseases."

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