Mumbai: In a dangerous trend, tuberculosis, which already kills a thousand people everyday in the country, has mutated yet again - this time infecting 12 people with an incurable form of the disease.
It doesn't get any more alarming. As you read this story, India is being gripped by a lethal mutated strain of tuberculosis which has no cure. In the last three months alone, Hinduja Hospital in Mumbai has identified 12 cases of the Total Drug Resistant TB, again incurable by any known drug.
Three years ago, Iran was the first country to report one case of this deadly TB. And now, India is the second country in the world to find 12 such cases. What's worrying is that ten out of these 12 people are from Mumbai. And with no government regulation in place for isolation, these patients, suffering from a highly infectious and incurable disease could be just anywhere.
On an average, in a year, without isolation, 1 TB patient infects at least 15-20 others. In 2009, TB took 4 lakh lives in India alone.
A disease which should have been eradicated 50 years ago is turning deadlier, who is to blame?
Dr Zarir F Udwadia, Chest Physician at Hinduja Hospital says, "All of us are to blame. The very fact that this kind of TB exists, means that we have all failed as a community at a public health level, at a private level. At a public health level, while DOTS is being a great success, it turns its back on multi drug resistance. On the private side, one of our studies showed that prescriptions are very poor. Wrong doses are given… wrong drugs… this again serves to amplify the problem."
And this could just be the tip of the iceberg. India has only 25 certified laboratories to test such deadly diseases. What steps should be immediately taken?
Dr Udwadia says, "Pick up patients early… at 3 months, when they are failing at standard treatment, send them all off for culture tests. Start second line of drugs under strict supervision of only those doctors who are trained to do so."
The study has been published in the latest issue of US based journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.