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Open Access Migration histories of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis patients from the Thailand-Myanmar border, 2012–2014

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SETTING: Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is a growing public health threat in South-East Asia. TB is typically a disease of poverty and can be spread by infectious humans who migrate from one region to another.

DESIGN: We interviewed 20 MDR-TB patients on the Thailand-Myanmar border with regard to their migration histories. Migration origins and destinations were mapped.

RESULTS: All but one participant had a history of migration, and maps of migration ranges revealed wide geographic dispersal. Most described living and work conditions that could contribute to the spread of drug-resistant TB, including numerous contacts and crowded living quarters.

CONCLUSION: Our results show that at least some migrant workers in the region carry MDR-TB, and indicate that this subgroup of the population is important with regard to the transmission of MDR-TB throughout the region. Migrants in this region come into contact with high numbers of people and may be able to spread the disease across wide geographic ranges. Access to diagnosis and treatment and socio-economic development are at least as important as any TB control measures, meaning that innovative and bold approaches that extend across international borders are needed to address these problems.
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Keywords: South-East Asia; diagnosis; disease ecology; poverty; treatment

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Shoklo Malaria Research Unit, Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit, Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Mae Sot, Tak 2: Shoklo Malaria Research Unit, Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit, Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Mae Sot, Tak, Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit 3: Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand 4: Shoklo Malaria Research Unit, Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit, Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Mae Sot, Tak, Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit, Centre for Tropical Medicine, Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK 5: International Organization for Migration, Bangkok Thailand 6: Shoklo Malaria Research Unit, Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit, Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Mae Sot, Tak, Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit, Centre for Tropical Medicine, Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

Publication date: 01 July 2017

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  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease publishes articles on all aspects of lung health, including public health-related issues such as training programmes, cost-benefit analysis, legislation, epidemiology, intervention studies and health systems research. The IJTLD is dedicated to the continuing education of physicians and health personnel and the dissemination of information on tuberculosis and lung health world-wide.

    Certain IJTLD articles are selected for translation into French, Spanish, Chinese or Russian. They are available on the Union website

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