Multi, Extremely, and Totally Drug-Resistant TB: TDR-TB

Sometimes change is easier to hear in language than it is to contextualize in reality.

My meager understanding of tuberculosis cannot be expected to grade the seriousness of the news that several new strains of the disease have been found in populations in India and Iran.

This sounds alarming, but after all, medical researchers have tricks up there sleeve as well. This may represent less a threat to you and me than simply the fact that this disease, once slated for eradication, seems to have slipped our medical net.

Yet even the experts at Chest magazine used precisely that word — alarming — to describe this development. . 

What am I talking about?

Totally Drug-Resistant TB (TDR-TB)

From The Times of India:

MUMBAI: Tuberculosis, which kills around 1,000 people a day in India, has acquired a deadlier edge. A new entity-ominously called Totally Drug-Resistant TB (TDR-TB )-has been isolated in the fluid samples of 12 TB patients in the past three months alone at Hinduja Hospital at Mahim . The hospital's laboratory has been certified by the World Health Organization (WHO) to test TB patients for drug resistance.

While Iran first reported TDRTB cases three years ago, India seems to be only the second country to report this deadly form of the disease. TDR-TB is the result of the latest mutation of the bacilli after Multi-Drug-Resistant TB (MDR-TB ) and Extremely Drug-Resistant TB (XDR-TB ) were diagnozed earlier.

This frank twist in our language occured because milder new variants on this old disease had already taken their places in the lexicon, complete with acronyms; such as the strain resistant to multiple drug therapies, (MDR-TB) and the strain extremely resistant (XDR-TB).

This new strain, TDR-TB, even Cipro can't kill. 

According to a WHO study from Iran:

The isolation of TDR strains from MDR-TB patients from different regional countries is alarming and underlines the possible dissemination of such strains in Asian countries. 

30% of those known known to have contracted this new form of TB in the study conducted in Tehran are immigrants from Afghanistan. 


Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria

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