Tuberculosis (TB) has become a major health concern in India, as its strains such as multiple drug resistant (MDR) and extremely drug resistant (XDR) are more virulent. Two years ago the number of XDR TB cases were comparatively less than now.
There were 112 cases of XDR TB in Mumbai in 2013 but the number rose to 396 in 2014. "It isn't as if there were no XDR cases till 2012. We just did not have the means and facilities to diagnose them. In fact, many did not even know that there could be XDR cases," said Dr Arun Bamne, Public Health Consultant, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
Experts said one of the reasons could be better diagnosis and reporting though statistics show that the number of XDR cases has been on consistent rise in the past two years.
"Other than diagnosis and better reporting, what has happened is that many of those who were taking treatment in the private sector have come under the public health umbrella [through the RNTCP]. With repeat diagnosis test they were found to have developed multiple drug resistance or even become XDR cases," said Dr Yatin Dholakia, Pulmonologist, Anti-TB association, Maharashtra.
Inadequate and improper treatment would be another reason for the increase. "With the widespread use of group of drugs called Quinolones, which are used to cure all kinds of infections, the resistance to drug has increased. Some doctors are using it to treat sensitive TB cases. Extensive use of Quinolones has led to the rise in XDR TB cases as against MDR," said, Dr Amita Nene, Chest Physician at Bombay Hospital.