Healthcare News & Insights

Report: 100% drug-resistant TB discovered in India

Doctors in India are reporting the country’s first strain of “totally resistant” tuberculosis has infected at least 12 people.

A handful of patients have been documented in Italy and Iran since 2003. But these are the first documented cases in India.So far, the cases have been limited to poorer regions and haven’t spread much.

The patients were treated by doctors in Mumbai with 12 different antibiotics over as many as three years, without success. Although the World Health Organization doesn’t recognize the term “totally resistant” TB, preferring to call it “extensively drug-resistant,” at least one US TB expert said the phrase “totally resistant” appears to be accurate.

That means that for all practical purposes, patients with the strain cannot be treated. TB is fatal without treatment.

One small sliver of good news: Indian health officials said the strain doesn’t appear to be spreading. In fact, almost all of the cases came about from mutations of the disease within patients who received inadequate care. One patient was infected by person-to-person contact while living with her mother in close quarters.

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