Totally Drug-Resistant TB Discovered

India reports 12 cases of most deadly strain yet of bacteria

By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 16, 2012 4:17 AM CST | Updated Jan 16, 2012 4:45 AM CST

(Newser) – As if "extensively" drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis were not scary enough, Indian doctors have discovered "totally" drug-resistant TB, reports AP. Twelve patients have been discovered who did not respond to initial treatment or two subsequent medicines tried over the next two or three years. Three have died, and doctors said prospects are grim for the others. "It was a given that this would happen," said one of the doctors who wrote about the dangerous new cases. "They have had no help from the Indian TB system. They are the untouchables, so no one is making a fuss. They don't have the power to vocalize. There's going to be more family contacts. It's going to spread for sure."

There is still debate in the medical community about whether the TB is completely resistant to all drugs, and the WHO has not yet accepted the term. However, the increase in dangerous new strains of tuberculosis is clear. "For there to be another report coming out from India is no surprise at all. Indeed, in a sense, it's surprising it's taken so long," said a WHO doctor. This is "yet another alarm call for countries and others engaged in TB control to do their jobs properly."

An unidentified tuberculosis (TB) patient sits on his bed at the state TB hospital in Gauhati, India.
An unidentified tuberculosis (TB) patient sits on his bed at the state TB hospital in Gauhati, India.   (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
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