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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: July 1, 2017

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  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (IJTLD) is for clinical research and epidemiological studies on lung health, including articles on TB, TB-HIV and respiratory diseases such as COVID-19, asthma, COPD, child lung health and the hazards of tobacco and air pollution. Individuals and institutes can subscribe to the IJTLD online or in print – simply email us at [email protected] for details.

    The IJTLD is dedicated to understanding lung disease and to the dissemination of knowledge leading to better lung health. To allow us to share scientific research as rapidly as possible, the IJTLD is fast-tracking the publication of certain articles as preprints prior to their publication. Read fast-track articles.

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