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Totally-drug-resistant TB patients responding to drugs?

The spectre of 'Totally Drug Resistant' (TDR) tuberculosis hanging over the city may well be just that -- an illusion fuelled by the fears of alarmists.

A team of doctors from the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare which is probing into the reported cases of drug resistant TB here, has said the cases cannot be legitimately termed as Totally Drug Resistant TB, as some of them are responding to drugs. Dr Ashok Kumar, deputy director general and head of the Central TB division, said, "It was premature on the part of Hinduja hospital to say that these patients are suffering from TDR tuberculosis."

Dr SC Gupta,  director of Directorate of Health Services under the state Health Department, said, "The hospital had identified 12 patients as victims of TDR TB, of which four succumbed.

"The team studied the cases, and four have shown progress, as their microscopic sputum exams have come back negative. The remaining four are not responding to the regime of existing drugs, and have been put on reserved drugs."

 "These cases can be termed as extra-extreme drug resistant (X-XDR) tuberculosis. The patients are responding to a combination of drugs, so it is not correct to categorise these cases as TDR. TDR implies that there is no treatment available, and this is not the case," said Dr S K Jindal, chairperson of the National Advisory Committee on tuberculosis.

Dr Camilla Rodrigues, from the Microbiology Department of Hinduja hospital, said, "Research has opened up new avenues and with the new initiatives, Mumbai will set a precedent for others in managing drug-resistant forms of TB."

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