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Totally Resistant TB Surfaces In India

Totally Resistant TB Surfaces In India

A drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis has been discovered in India…

A drug resistant strain of the potentially fatal bacteria tuberculosis has surfaced in Mumbai, India. The disease has already claimed the lives of three, and a further 12 patients still remain untreatable.

Doctors at the Hinduja National Hospital where the bacteria was first reported, say they have been treating patients with a range of drugs but so far nothing has worked.

The infected patients came from slum areas of the city where close contact between people means further spreading was likely. The Indian Health Ministry has now sent a team of doctors to Mumbai to investigate.

new resistant strain of tuberculosis 550x364 Totally Resistant TB Surfaces In India

Drug Resistant Strain Of TB Found In India

Image Credit: Yale Rosen, 2011.

The cause of the small, but worrying outbreak is still unknown. In some cases the growth of drug-resistant strains can be spurred on when patients do not finish their course of treatments. This creates an ideal breading ground for the bacteria to grow more resilient to the onslaught of medications.

The very first cases of multiple drug-resistant TB happened in Italy in 2003, and in Iran in 2005. Partially drug-resistant TB can also be found in countries such as China and Russia.

Typically a patient with TB is given a six to nine month course of antibiotics to eradicate it. However, the new strains appear completely resistant to all drugs on the market, confirmed the American Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Kenneth Castro, director of its Division of Tuberculosis Elimination, said:

“Anytime we see something like this, we better get on top of it before it becomes a more widespread problem.”

Dr Ruth Mcnerney, a senior lecturer at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a trustee of charity TB Alert, said the new cases represented a “serious threat” to global efforts to control TB:

“What we’re seeing is probably just the tip of the iceberg. We don’t know how widespread this is because so few people are tested for drug resistance.”


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  1. Indian TB cases ‘can’t be cured’. BBC, 01/17/2011.

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