The Intermediate Reference Laboratory for Tuberculosis, a public-private facility, recently was established in the Indian state of Kerala to help monitor drug-resistant TB, The Hindu reports.
The facility is the first standardized lab in the state established to perform culture and drug-sensitivity tests of Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
The Central TB Division allocated 50,000 rupees -- or about $1,300 -- to launch the Kerala IRL, which is the third of its kind in India, according to The Hindu.
The lab will test sputum samples from across the state that have not responded to first-line TB drugs. IRL initially will work to determine the prevalence of drug-resistant TB in Kerala.
After a few months, sputum samples will be referred to a panel of experts that will determine what sort of DOTS-Plus strategy is needed to manage the specific case, according to The Hindu.
Kerala has been following the DOTS strategy under the Revised National TB Control Program, but the state aims to adopt the DOTS-Plus strategy at some point next year to address the emerging threat of MDR-TB, The Hindu reports.
Although official statistics on the prevalence of MDR-TB are not available, studies conducted in Kerala and other states indicate that about 3% of TB cases are MDR-TB.
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation