Project determines reasons for TB prevalence in Pacific

Burnet Institute

29 March, 2012

Eman Aleksic at the opening of a traditional Maneaba with a novel air-flow design for patients to reside while they are being treated instead of hospital wards or overcrowded households. Here, she danced with local nurses for the Kiribati President.

A five-year Burnet Institute project focusing on tuberculosis on the pacific island of Kiribati has given researchers a better understanding of why the disease is so prevalent in the country.

Quality Manager, TB specialist and research assistant for the International Clinical Research Laboratory (iCRL) within the Centre for Virology at the Institute Eman Aleksic says TB is a big problem in Kiribati but there isn’t an obvious reason for it.

“Kiribati has one of the highest incidences of TB in the Western Pacific and there are many different strains. To put that in perspective, in Australia, the level of TB is five diagnoses per 100,000 people, in Kiribati, it’s 60 times that.” Ms Aleksic said.

“TB infects a third of the world’s population and is very high in Papua New Guinea, South-East Asia and Africa, so these types of projects are important to target prevention strategies and control the disease.”

The project which began in 2006, collects samples from Kiribati and samples are genotype tested and analysed back at the Institute’s labs in Melbourne.

In addition, the study is looking at drug resistance rates and demographic information obtained from recruited patients.

“The results should tell us why TB has remained so prevalent after many years and help decide what tools could be used to reduce the rates,” Ms Aleksic said.

“It will also aid in developing effective public health messages and what demographics those messages should be focused at.”

The results for the project will be available later in the year.

CLICK HERE to see the project profiled in the Stonnington Leader.

Health Issue

Contact Details

For more information in relation to this news article, please contact:

Professor Suzanne Crowe AM

Burnet Associate




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