More than a week after the World Health Organization issued its claim that a toddler with pneumonia in China had contracted drug-resistant tuberculosis, Arizona-based researchers are saying their findings suggest the disease occurred naturally.
In the first case of drug-resistant TB reported in nearly a year in the country, WHO said the cough-sore child’s symptoms were consistent with having come into contact with drug-resistant tuberculosis found in other travelers from China who returned to the U.S.
In a press briefing held by China on Wednesday, government officials defended their handling of the outbreak that affected 23 people and killed one.
Zheng Jing, from the Doctors Against Tuberculosis Foundation, told The New York Times that the situation was much more serious than WHO claimed, adding that Chinese officials didn’t appropriately diagnose the case early on.
“There are no specific symptoms,” he said. “This could have been known from the outset.”
“Perhaps during the prevention campaign in late January, nobody noticed something was different,” he added.
McNees Wilson, from the School of Life Sciences at the University of Arizona, said in a statement to Fox News on Friday that it was “initially evident” the first case had been caused by drug-resistant tuberculosis from Wuhan.
McNees said the first test was negative, but further analysis found that the patient’s pneumonia was resistant to “Hepsera R such a drugs.”
“The CDC data show that infections are rare. We fully expect that the first case observed here in COVID-19 will become an isolated event when compared to the circumstances of other high-profile pandemics like the current Ebola,” he added.
“That said, it’s important to realize that cases that originate in China are extremely rare. They occur most often from travelers coming into contact with other travelers from Chinese infected with TB.”