India

'Totally drug-resistant' tuberculosis now sweeping India, 25% fatality rate so far

Wednesday, January 18, 2012 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: drug-resistant TB, India, antibiotics

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(NaturalNews) A highly-contagious lung disease that has become increasingly difficult to treat, tuberculosis (TB) appears to be making a deadly comeback in India. As was predicted by the World Health Organization (WHO) back in 2009, drug-resistant strains of TB for which there is no viable treatment appear to be on the rise, with a growing number of new cases now appearing in India.

New York Daily News (NYDN) reports that at least three patients with drug-resistant TB in India have already died, and nine others have failed to respond to conventional treatments. The deadly new strain of the disease is reportedly "totally drug-resistant," which means that conventional antibiotics are completely useless. Those who contract this virulent strain but are not treated alternatively, in other words, will most likely die as well.

"Anytime we see something like this, we (had) better get on top of it before it becomes a more widespread problem," said Dr. Kenneth Castro from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s Division of Tuberculosis Elimination. Dr. Castro admits that the new TB strain does appear to be completely resistant to conventional treatments.

Some experts are blaming improper treatments during the early stages of the disease for the deadly mutation -- when antibiotics for TB are taken in the wrong doses and for the wrong amount of time, for instance, the bacteria come back progressively stronger than before. And based on mutation trends throughout the past several years, experts say it was only a matter of time before TB strains grew so strong that no treatment would be effective against them.

In years past, drug-resistant TB strains had popped up in Asia, South Africa, Russia, and the Middle East. So far, these outbreaks have not resulted in a worldwide pandemic. But based on the overuse and improper use of antibiotics around the world, drug-resistant TB strains are sure to eventually become problematic across the globe, say experts, even in developed nations where TB is not typically a major issue.

"It was a given that this would happen," said Dr. Zarir Udwadia, a doctor from the PD Hinduja National Hospital and Medical Research Center, to ABC News. "There's going to be more family contacts. It's going to spread for sure."

The same ABC News report says about 20 percent of the world's cases of drug-resistant TB originate in India, while 25 percent of all TB cases in general originate in India, according to estimates.

Sources for this article include:

http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/totally-drug-resistant-tuberculosis-reported-india-12-patients-responded-tb-medication-article-1.1007024

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/india-reports-tb-strain-resistant-drugs-15369083

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