TB death: BMC now screening families, neighbours of patients
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AFTER a 13-year-old girl from Goregaon died of Extra Extensively Drug Resistant TB (XXDR -TB) a few weeks ago, the TB division of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is focusing on screening families and neighbours of such patients. Previous studies have shown that a TB patient can further infect an average of 15 people a year if enough care is not taken. The BMC now has a monitoring system to screen those who have come in contact with drug-resistant patients.
"The drug-resistant TB strain is very virulent with high potential of transmission. We have already tested the family members of the girl who died and none of them have tested positive for TB yet. However, it is a continuing process that needs to be followed up. We have been performing sputum tests of around 100 families in the vicinity of drug-resistant patients," said BMC TB officer Dr Mini Khetarpal.
Dr Zarir Udwadia, physician from Hinduja Hospital who had identified the first set of TB patients who were 'totally' drug resistant, said in order to prevent the spread of the disease, timely tests have to be followed by appropriate treatment. The 13-year-old girl was among the patients identified by Udwadia as suffering from Totally Drug Resistant TB (TDR-TB).
"TB is an airborne disease, making it very easy to spread. In case a person who has been in contact with a TB patient shows symptoms such as sustained cough, he must be tested and treated immediately," Udwadia said.
Khetarpal denied that the Goregaon girl was resistant to all drugs but it was a sudden drop of immunity that lead to her death.
"The girl had been taking treatment from us for the past six months and was responding to treatment. A few days before she died, her health suddenly started deteriorating. Factors such as individual immunity, external environment contribute to the overall condition of the person. Having said that, TB, like any other chronic disease, is unpredictable," Khetarpal said, adding that while six of other XXDR TB patients were doing fine, there is no way of guaranteeing their long-term survival.
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