San Francisco: Extremely drug-resistant TB, or XDR-TB, is a growing problem in India affecting mostly young, working-age people, researchers said on 22 May at the American Thoracic Society’s 2007 conference.
The first study of the problem in India found that XDR-TB accounted for 8% of multi-drug resistant cases in the country, twice the number in the United States, the ATS conference said in a press release.
XDR-TB is even more dangerous than the already-recognized threat from multi-drug-resistant TB, MDR-TB, strains of tuberculosis resistant to at least the two first-line drugs, isoniazid and rifampicin. XDR-TB is MDR-TB that is also resistant to three or more of six classes of second-line drugs, the statement added.
Sushil Jain, of the Hinduja National Hospital in Mumbai, India, said his medical team examined 3,904 lab samples, finding that 1,274 were positive for Mycobacterium tuberclosis. Around 32% of the positive samples were found to be MDR-TB, out of which 8% were XDR-TB, Jain reported.
He said the death rate among the XDR-TB patients is an “alarmingly high” at 42%. “An important finding is that the majority of patients with XDR-TB were of younger age group (averaging 30 years old), thus posing a major threat to our economically productive population,” Jain said.
He said it is impossible to determine the prevalence of XDR-TB in India, since most of its labs are not equipped to perform drug susceptibility tests, and that treatment of the disease is compounded by its huge cost.