TDR – Totally Drug Resistant – is not a word that you want to hear when it’s attached to any kind of infection, bacteria, disease, or virus, much less the tuberculosis virus. News have been rushing across India of 12 patients infected with tuberculosis that has mutated to be resistant to all drugs used against the disease. This means that it can NOT be treated or cured – as of right now.
Which is really bad, especially this early in the year. Looks like 2012 is going to be a rough year.
Why This TDR-TB is Horrible
Tuberculosis or “TB” is one of the world’s deadliest viruses killing 1.7 million people in 2009 alone. Normal TB is treated with pills, the whole treatment can take up to 6 months – if you’re lucky – even after you have been treated the pill they use to treat you has long term side effects and the patient has to continue to take the pill until the patient begins to feel okay again.
So How Did The Virus Become TDR?
When people get infected with a virus, they tend to receive medicine to kill the virus off. Unfortunately, people stop taking the medicine when they start to feel “okay,” when they do this, the virus’ that survive the medicine attack mutate to create better stronger copies of its self to become resistant to drugs. There are several different types of TB – The regular TB, MDR-TB: Multi Drug Resistant, and XDR-TB: Extensively Drug Resistant, each one of them is immune to different types of drugs.
The only reason TDR is really bad is because it’s Totally Drug Resistant. XDR is resistant to most treatments, and currently the only cure can take up to 2 years to fully take care of the virus. You can imagine how bad TDR can be.
Where Did It Come From?
The First reported cases came from Israel, where 15 people were infected, somehow it has managed to make it to India. Out of the 12 people infected with TDR-TB, 4 of them saw doctors for treatment. The doctors failed to identify the disease and at least 3 of them received the wrong antibiotics. Since most practicioners in India are un-regulated, the doctors that misidentify diseases and give the wrong dosage of antibiotics cause the disease to grow stronger. In this case they turned the MDR-TB into XDR-TB and finally up to TDR-TB. [Wired]