Blood test to identify those at 'high risk' of contracting TB

Scientists at Stellenbosch University have collaborated with international researchers to develop a simple blood test that can predict those who are at the highest risk of contracting TB.

Prof Gerhard Walzl of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at Stellenbosch University says the tests will help identify those in risk and put them on preventative treatment before disease becomes active.

It took researchers 14 years to finally come up with a working formula.

Read: Poor TB infection controls at SA healthcare facilities - TAC report

The treatment is the same antibiotic that we use for active TB but it is fewer pills and for a shorter period. A full TB treatment takes six months and with preventative treatment we will get away with just 12 weeks , once a week.

Prof Gerhard Walzl, Stellenbosch University Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences

However, the preventative treatment is not yet ready for use, it must still undergo clinical trials.

TB treatment is six months long and it is not particularly pleasant because there are a lot of side effects, people feel nauseous and stop taking them as soon as they feel better and then get multi-drug resistance tuberculosis.

Prof Gerhard Walzl, Stellenbosch University Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences

To hear the rest of the interview with Prof Gerhard Walzl, listen below:


This article first appeared on CapeTalk : Blood test to identify those at 'high risk' of contracting TB


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