BBC News - 20 January 2012
India - Indian health authorities have rejected recent reports
that some tuberculosis cases in Mumbai were totally resistant to
A health ministry team sent to probe the cases said they were
"extensively drug resistant" infections.
Earlier, doctors in Mumbai said 12 patients had a "totally drug
resistant" form of TB, and three had died.
TB is one of the world's biggest killers, second only to HIV
among infectious diseases.
Normally a patient with TB is given a six to nine month course of
antibiotics to eradicate it.
However, new strains of the bacterium have developed which are
increasingly resistant to the antibiotics most commonly used to
Partially drug-resistant TB can now be found in countries across
the world, and "multi-drug resistant" strains affect countries
such as Russia and China.
But concern over drug-resistant strains of TB is growing, with
claims of "incurable" TB emerging in Italy and Iran.
The team that visited Mumbai to examine the "totally drug
resistant" cases has submitted its report to Health and Family
Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad.
"The cases reported by Hinduja hospital fall only within the
category of 'extensively drug resistant' TB based on standard
World Health Organisation (WHO) definitions and not at all as
'totally drug resistant' TB," the ministry said in a press
"Of the 12 patients, nine have been found to be stable on current
treatment while three have died," it said.
A WHO official in India told the BBC that the there is no
recognised case of totally drug resistant TB anywhere in the
"Past claims in Italy and Iran have not stood up to scrutiny and
the WHO does not recognise totally drug resistant TB," Dr Shamim
The total drug resistant infections were reported by doctors at
the Hinduja National Hospital in Mumbai who said they had treated
patients for up to two years with a battery of drugs, to no
The patients came from the crowded city slums where close contact
between people meant further spread was likely.
The report fuelled concerns over India's ability to contain the
disease in years to come.
India gets nearly two million new TB cases every year - the
highest in the world - and the disease, which is fully curable,
kills at least 280,000 people annually.
And the huge number of drug-resistant cases are turning out to be
a big worry to the authorities - in 2007, India reported 131,000
drug-resistant cases and officials say that number is steadily
Experts say patients who do not finish their lengthy course of
treatment present the bacterium with the perfect environment for
developing further resistance.