The world runs the risk of a TB time bomb if governments do not act on the spread of drug-resistant forms of the disease, experts have warned.
Two doctors writing in the Lancet said that “superbug” strains of the condition could come to dominate without significant investment in medical research and development.
While TB was almost wiped out in the developed world, mutated forms of the disease are becoming more common, said Dr Neel Gandhi, from Yeshiva University in New York and Dr Paul Nunn, from the World Health Organisation in Geneva.
In 2008, an estimated 440,000 multidrug-resistant tuberculosis infections occurred around the world, accounting for 3.6% of all known cases that year.
An even more virulent strain, known as extensively drug-resistant TB, has also been reported across the world.
Experts fear the problem could worsen to such an extent that an unstoppable form of the disease emerges in the future.
TB kills around 1.8 million people every year.
Copyright Press Association 2010