There is an overwhelming number of acronyms for the various forms of tuberculosis, and some debate about which strain coincides with what acronym. The discussion over semantics, however, should not overshadow the fact that TB drug resistance is rapidly increasing.
Although the WHO prefers to call the newest outbreak of TB resistant cases Extremely Drug Resistant (XDR+), doctors at the National Institute for Research and Tuberculosis (NIRT) in Chennai maintain the dozens of cases they have seen since July were Totally Drug Resistant (TDR). This means that none of the existing 12 antibiotics used to treat tuberculosis were effective.
Patients suffering from this lethal strain are left with few options. Dr. Zarir Udwadia, who first spoke about TDR-TB in Mumbai earlier this year says, “We have little to offer these patients except for drastic surgery and medication for relief.”
Though many doctors in India have clinically confirmed the existence of TDR-TB, some debate over its existence remains because it is difficult to prove in the lab. Once further research on the strain’s drug resistance is conducted, other groups may be willing to accept the doctors’ definition.
Additional cases of TDR-TB have also been reported in Bangalore, New Delhi, and in far-off Italy. A nationwide survey to determine the incidence of this highly resistant strain is planned to begin in India by the end of 2012, and will provide interested parties with more comprehensive figures of the epidemic.