TB threat assessed

University of Otago researchers are looking at whether there needs to be a widespread campaign to eradicate tuberculosis among Maori.

Lead researcher Professor Philip Hill says New Zealand’s clean air drew many migrants with the disease, which led to high rates of infection among Maori in the 19th and early 20th century.

Even though the lung disease is largely eradicated in this country, there is still a persistent low level of new cases among Maori, as the bacteria which causes it can lie dormant for years.

He says that raises the question of how much infection remains within the population of older Maori.

"Some of that TB will spread to other people and to prevent it from doing so. The only way to address a reservoir of dormant infection is to find it and to offer preventative treatment. Until we characterise whether there is a reservoir then we wont be able to say whether it is a good idea or a bad idea to offer that" Professor Hill says.

Dr Hills says the two year Health Research Council-funded study will be done in partnership with the university’s Kohatu centre for hauora Maori and Waikato District Health Board’s Te Puna Oranga service to determine levels of latent disease in different age groups.
- Waatea News