Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Untreatable tuberculosis spreads in India

A mother and child waiting for TB check-up in the outskirts of Kolkata, India

Source: Press TV

At least a dozen people in India has been infected with a type of tuberculosis (TB) that is totally resistant to all antibiotics used to treat the disease.

New reports about more cases of lung infection with the deadly resistant bacterium have sparked concern among health experts across India where about 3.8 new infections occur every minute.

The first patient infected with the totally resistant TB was reported in India last month but further investigations found other cases that may be just a small part of people infected in the densely populated country.

Indian health authorities and experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) met on Monday in Mumbai to discuss possible ways of controlling and managing the disease including isolation of patients.

India accounts for 26 percent of all tuberculosis infections worldwide, equating to at least 2 million new ones in 2010.

The country is not the first place with highly drug resistant TB. Doctors had identified patients with forms of drug resistant infections in some other countries and believed that there could be many undocumented cases.

“These patients may well be the tip of the iceberg,” said WHO's Stop TB Department director Dr. Mario Raviglione.

Reportedly, first-line medications for TB are often illegally available without a doctor's prescription in India, a condition which may lead to development of more drug resistant germs.

“When anyone can go to a pharmacy and buy these second-line drugs, then one can assume that many other cases like this exist,” said Raviglione.

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