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South African Officials Trace Contacts of Patient With Deadly TB


South African health officials say they are trying to track down all the people who may have come in contact with a woman who has a deadly new strain of tuberculosis.

Officials say they will release a report Thursday on the patient's contacts in the days she spent outside a Johannesburg hospital.

The woman, who has not been identified, was diagnosed with so-called extreme drug-resistant TB last Friday. Health officials say despite their protests she refused further hospitalization and went home. The Gauteng province health department finally convinced her to be re-hospitalized on Wednesday.

A recent outbreak of the new TB strain killed 52 of 53 patients in whom it was detected in South Africa's Kwazulu Natal province.

The Gauteng province health department said patients have a right to refuse medical treatment, but that officials have the duty to protect the public's health.

Tuberculosis is a contagious disease that is spread through the air. The World Health Organization says each untreated person with active TB disease will infect 10 to 15 people, on average, every year.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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