Six-month-old girl battling MDR-TB

Sep 24, 2013, 00:12 IST | Anup Satphale

After the Ahmednagar resident was admitted to Sassoon Hospital, doctors were shocked to find that she was suffering from multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, highly unusual for such a young child

When the parents of the six-month-old baby heard her coughing intermittently, they initially weren’t too perturbed. However, taking note of their daughter breathing in gasps, they did take her to a local hospital in Ahmednagar. Doctors there advised the parents to take their daughter to Pune where she could receive further treatment. The girl arrived in the city last week, and was admitted to the paediatric department at Sassoon Hospital. A test was conducted, and the result was devastating -- she was diagnosed with a TB strain, which is resistant to two or more common drugs, generally known as multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB).>

Representation Pic

Authorities claim that this is one of the rare cases where they have come across such a young child who has been diagnosed with the highly contagious bacterial infection. Dr Shobha Rajure, District TB officer, said that the girl was admitted to the hospital following an ailment, but when a test was carried out, she tested positive for MDR-TB.

Sasoon Hospital
Something in the air: Sassoon Hospital, where the baby was receiving treatment. File Pic

“When the sputum tested positive, our officials were shocked. They wondered how such a young girl could contract the disease. So, we consulted the paediatricians at Sassoon hospital,” Rajure said. SN Inamdar, district TB-HIV supervisor, said, “When we passed on the case details to the WHO consultants, they did not believe it and asked for a comprehensive report of her tests. I’ve seen many young children suffering from TB, but this is an uncommon occurrence where a six-month-old child has been infected with MDR-TB. Since, she is a resident of Ahmednagar, we have transferred all the details to the district TB officer there, according to norms put down by the government.” 

The highly contagious infection, which is passed from person to person through the air, has baffled health experts. Sanjay Doiphode, senior TB-HIV supervisor, said, “After receiving the details, we started inquiring about the source of infection. We asked the child’s parents regarding any TB history, but they ruled it out. They, however, feel that their neighbour may have spread the virus. The old lady, according to the parents, has been suffering with a persistent cough, or she must be suffering from TB.” The baby was discharged on Thursday, and is seeking medical attention in her hometown.

What is MDR-TB?
Multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is defined as tuberculosis that is resistant to at least isoniazid (INH) and rifampicin (RMP), the two most powerful first-line treatment anti-TB drugs. Isolates that are multiply resistant to any other combination of anti-TB drugs but not to INH and RMP are not classed as MDR-TB.
MDR-TB develops in otherwise treatable TB when the course of antibiotics is interrupted and the levels of drug in the body are insufficient to kill 100% of bacteria. MDR-TB is spread from person to person as readily as drug-sensitive TB and in the same manner.   

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