Experts urge strongest isolation for new drug-resistant tuberculosis cases appearing in South Africa

University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics

Public health trumps individual human rights, medical ethics experts say

Ross Upshur

Medical ethics and other experts say tough isolation measures, involuntary if need be, are justified to contain a very deadly, highly-contagious and drug-resistant mutant strain of tuberculosis and to prevent “a potentially explosive international health crisis” brewing most dangerously in South Africa.

They warn that new variations of the disease now defeat many of the world’s existing drugs and “the forced isolation and confinement of XDR-TB (extensively drug resistant tuberculosis) and MDR-TB (multiple drug resistant tuberculosis) infected individuals may be a proportionate response in defined situations given the extreme risk posed.”

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