Drug-resistant TB rearing its head in India

Drug-resistant TB rearing its head in India

When the chest pain and racking cough of tuberculosis patient Asha (31) refused to subside even after six months of treatment, the doctor got her sputum tested again — only to find that she had developed a worrying form of the disease known as extensively drug resistant TB, which is nearly impossible to treat as of now.

India is already grappling with the disease burden of multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB, which manifests when a patient fails to take all the TB medicines exactly as prescribed and misses out some doses. The TB bacterium, which remains in the patient, mutates and cannot be treated with the first and second line of treatment. The bacterium has mutated even more as extensively drug resistant TB (XDR-TB) that is resistant to normal drugs.

Doctors are now trying combination drugs to treat it. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), India is home to 73,000 patients with MDR-TB. 

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