Laxmi Nayudu, 22, started taking tuberculosis (TB) medicines from March 12. However, even after 10 days of medication, the Dharavi resident did not feel any better. On Saturday, before heading to work at a nearby tailoring unit, Nayudu gave her sputum sample for the Gene Xpert test at Dharavi's urban health centre. A few hours later, Nayudu was told she had tested positive for drug resistant TB.
Nayudu became the first case of multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) to be detected in the country through Gene Xpert, a device that can test TB and MDR-TB in less than two hours. On the occasion of World TB Day on Saturday, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation started a feasibility study for Gene Xpert.
Gene Xpert has been approved and recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Experts say the device can improve detection of drug-resistant TB by up to three times.
In November, Nayudu had been asked by a doctor to start taking TB medication. When she felt better two months later, she stopped the medicines. However, when her condition deteriorated again, she was asked to take the test.
"Now we can start her on the DOTS plus course with the BMC. She will save at least a month," said Mangala Surve of the Maharashtra Janvikas Kendra.
"We lose many patients because of the time lag in culture tests, which can take up to two months. Nearly 10% of MDR patients succumb before treatment can start. A patient will save a lot of time because of this test," said state TB officer PY Gaikwad.