A new study has found an unusual risk in acupuncture: tuberculosis, which kills over 1 million people each year. While pulmonary tuberculosis is the best known and most common form, the infection can also be spread through skin contact.
Acupuncture, the traditional Chinese treatment of placing of needles in the body, is said to cure people of various ailments. Proponents believe that the needles control energy fields in the human body and treat medical issues. However, the energies that acupuncturists claim to manipulate have never been proven to exist and cannot be detected by any scientific instrument.
The article was published last week on the open-access journal PLoS-ONE and titled "Analysis of 30 Patients with Acupuncture-Induced Primary Inoculation Tuberculosis." In it the researchers described "Seven confirmed and 23 suspected, total 30 patients (13 male and 17 female) with primary inoculation tuberculosis were selected from the same clinic in Wenzhou City, China that specialized in treatment of muscle and soft tissue pain and osteoarthritis of the knee.... Patients ages ranged from 31 to 71 years... had all undergone acupuncture and electrotherapy, administered by the same clinician, once every two days for about two weeks for the treatment of neck, back, elbow, wrist, hip, knee and ankle pain. The procedures took place between May 2011 and August 2011."