India Becomes Second Country With Totally Drug-Resistant TB


In a troubling development, at least twelve patients in Mumbai, India have been infected with a totally drug-resistant form of tuberculosis and at least one has died from a disease that, while still deadly, had hopes of stabilizing in the developing world.

Iran was the first country to report cases of drug-resistant TB three years ago. This discovery hopefully makes India only the second country to find this particularly deadly form of the disease. But, the first emergence of a totally drug-resistant TB in 15 patients in Iran included Afghani, Azerbaijani, and Iraqi immigrants, leading health workers to assume the total number of cases was higher then originally diagnoses since health care is practically non-existent along these border regions.

Worldwide only two-thirds of countries with some form of resistant TB have the labs to diagnose those strains, with only 10 percent of the multi-drug resistant TB patients receiving treatments with cure rates as low as 25 percent.

In a letter published by the Clinical Infectious Diseases (CID) last month, India health practitioners noted that at least four of the 12 Indian patients saw a number of doctors and at least three received partial, multiple courses of the wrong antibiotics. Only 5 of 106 private practitioners practicing in the Dharavi area where these patients emerged could prescribe a correct prescription for a patient with multi-drug resistant TB.

Of course the problem with prescribing the wrong medication is to amplify drug resistance, making the strain even more lethal. This puts public health practitioners in a real bind. Treating TB was already a cumbersome process that requires at least six months of pill combinations that patients must take long after they start to feel well. It is not uncommon for a course of treatment to go unfinished as a result. Yet TB is one of the most problematic of diseases, accounting for 9.4 million cases and 1.7 million deaths in 2009. And with funding for global health initiatives shaky, this is the kind of development that could spread rapidly with devastating consequence.


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Photo from mckaysavage5 via flickr.

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Lynn C.
Lynn C.2 years ago


Irene S.
Irene S.2 years ago

Alarming! All of them countries, not suspected to use antibiotics in meat production.

TERRY R.2 years ago


Ellen Mccabe
ellen m.3 years ago

Another epidemic would spread quickly and be devastating!

Rebecca S.
Rebecca S.3 years ago


Wende Anne Maunder
Wendé Maunder3 years ago

It's a frightening report but is anyone surprised? This has been a disaster waiting to happen for decades. And it's all down to the misuse of antibiotics. It is easy to buy antibiotics in India, at markets and in health stores. Many so called remedies are routinely sold with mixes of ingredients of which antibiotics is one with inadequate instructions for their use. The folk who use them, do so indiscriminately with the result that the infections inevitably become immune to any possible proper use in the future. The clue is in the name: anti = against and biotic = living organisms. Antibiotics have been effective at curing infection because they destroy the living organisms which are causing the diseases. But if they are wrongly and indiscriminately prescribed, the organisms will mutate to become immune from their effect. So this has finally happened.

Properly administered they have been a force for good and have saved many lives - including mine. They should, however, always be given with instructions to take a course of probiotics FOLLOWING the completion of the course because antibiotics do not specifically target just the 'bad' bugs; they kill ALL the flora and fauna - even the good stuff and that needs to be replaced.

Dijana D.
Dijana D.3 years ago


Elsa O.
Elsa O.3 years ago

thank you

Brian M.
Past Member 3 years ago

Disease pandemics will become much more common over the next few decades.

Laura M.
Past Member 3 years ago

pretty scary prospect...