The TB menace in India is likely to grow worse with the new, deadlier form of virus detected in Mumbai. 12 tuberculosis patients at Hinduja Hospital in Mahim, Mumbai have been found to have a virus which has been termed Totally Drug Resistant (TDR) – TB. The viruses were isolated in the fluid samples of the patients.
This virus has the latest and most severe form of drug resistance in TB viruses after the Multi-Drug Resistant (MDR-TB), and Extremely Drug-Resistant (EDR-TB) varieties diagnosed a while back. The TDRTB has also been diagnosed in Iran earlier and India is the second country that has reported it. With close to 4 lakhs people estimated to die each year from the disease in India, the newly developed drug resistance can complicate the problems of health authorities, particularly in Mumbai and adjoining areas.
Out of the 12 patients detected with the TDR-TB, 10 are from Mumbai while the other two are from Ratnagiri and UP. One of these patients has died already. The laboratory of Hinduja Hospital in Mumbai has been certified by WHO for testing the drug resistance of virus in TB patients. Dr. Zarir Udawala from the hospital stated that the mutation of virus has very serious implications on public health. He started the work of isolating TDR-TB cases in patients suffering from pulmonary TB.
According to a senior public health official of BMC, the municipal body of Mumbai, drug resistance develops in patients because they do not complete the full term of 6 to 9 months of medication after being infected with TB virus. The effect of TB virus subsides within 2 months and the patients stop taking the drug after that. The effect is that the some TB germs persist and start to multiply.
1.7 million people were reported to die of TB in the year 2009, and the latest drug resistance is all set to take this toll higher. From the MDR-TB, that was discovered in 1992, to the EDR-TB found a few years back, to the TDR-TB, the anti-viral treatment options seem to have completed a full circle. According to Dr. Udawala, the patients afflicted with the latest form of the virus can only be provided drastic surgery and medications for partial relief. The findings of his team have been published in a peer reviewed journal of the USA.