January 16, 2012
Drug Resistant TB Reported In India
Indian doctors say they have seen the first case of a "totally drug-resistant tuberculosis" in the country.
The Indian TB strain is mainly transmitted through close personal contact and is not as contagious as the flu.
Most of the cases of this kind of TB were not from person-to-person infection but from mutations that occurred in poorly treated patients.
The Indian doctors tested a dozen medicines on their patients who had the drug-resistant form of TB and none of them worked.
A TB expert at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the drugs appear to be totally resistant to available drugs.
The strain is limited to impoverished areas, and has not spread widely. However, experts believe there could be many more undocumented cases.
Ordinary TB is cured by taking antibiotics for six to nine months. However, if that treatment fails, the bacteria can battle back and mutate into a tougher strain that is unable to be killed by standard drugs.
Doctors at the Mumbai hospital have reported a total of 12 patients who have failed initial treatment .
They wrote about the first few cases in a letter to a U.S. medical journal in December.
"These three patients had received erratic, unsupervised second-line drugs, added individually and often in incorrect doses, from multiple private practitioners," wrote the doctors from P.D. Hinduja National Hospital and Medical Research Center in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.
One of the doctors, Zarir Udwadia, told Daily Mail that the testing and treatment methods of the Indian government's TB program were faulty. He said the methods force patients to turn to private doctors, many of whom do not understand how to properly treat TB or the risks of increasing drug resistance by prescribing the wrong drugs.
Similar drug-resistant TB cases were reported in Italy and Iran in 2003. In these cases, two Italian women died and there were 15 cases reported from Iran in 2009.