Add another drawback to acupuncture: possible infection with primary inoculation tuberculosis. That does not sound good. A new paper is published showing a correlation of acupuncture and electrotherapy with onset of a form of tuberculosis.
Primary inoculation tuberculosis is a skin condition that develops at the site of inoculation of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in tuberculosis-free individuals. This report describes the diagnosis, treatment and 1 year follow-up of 30 patients presenting with acupuncture-induced primary inoculation tuberculosis. Our data provide a deeper insight into this rare route of infection of tuberculosis. We also review effective treatment options.
The study looked at 30 patients who had primary inoculation tuberculosis. They had all received acupuncture and electrotherapy treatment from the same clinic in Wenzhou City, China. Even the same clinician is mentioned. Luckily none tested positive for HIV. The study notes that the injection materials were disposable but the lesions that appeared on the patients have been linked to locations of electrotherapy, possibly from bacteria on the pads used, that got into the blood from small skin wounds. Yet, a test of the pad was negative.
In general, there were seven confirmed patients in this cutaneous tuberculosis outbreak while the rest twenty-three were supposed to be suspected patients.
[...] All 30 patients had onset of primary inoculation tuberculosis within 1 to 3 months of the acupuncture procedure.
[...] The use of Chinese acupuncture needles which are able to deeply penetrate into the tissues surrounding tendons and nerves provide an ideal route for the inoculation of tuberculosis. The patients in our outbreak underwent acupuncture twice daily for two weeks. This high degree of potential exposure may explain why there were no cases of spontaneous healing. It was also possible that patients with self-healing of skin lesions had ignored their short-lasting symptoms and became the so called ‘non-incident’ patients.
One of the main conclusions of the study is that the tuberculosis bacterium can spread easily in these conditions; acupuncturists should develop better procedures to address this risk.
Acupuncture has not been shown to be beneficial. Now, additional risks have been added. So, there IS potential harm, however rare, to sticking needles into your skin. The harm outweighs the zero benefits.
You can read the entire study at the above link, it’s public. But note the skin lesions are not pretty.