Despite awareness programs about prevention of tuberculosis organised regularly by the state health department, the increased incidence of MDR (multiple drug resistant) TB, in the district has caused concern. According to department data the number of patients who have contracted this form of infection caused by bacteria that are resistant to treatment has risen to 45 till date.
One of the patients who is in an advanced stage of the disease is undergoing XDR (extensive drug resistance) treatment. Of the 45 patients diagnosed with MDR TB 18 are from the Kullu area, nine in the Banjar area, 11 in the Anni area and seven in the Manali area.
District health programme officer Rakesh Thakur told this reporter the primary cause for low detection of TB cases is the social stigma attached to the disease and patients being administered treatment discontinuing their medicines.
"In MDR cases primary resistance occurs when a person becomes infected with a resistant strain of TB. A person fully susceptible to TB may develop secondary (acquired) resistance during therapy because of inadequate treatment, not taking the prescribed medication appropriately (lack of compliance), or using low quality medication. Drug-resistant TB is a serious public health issue as its treatment is longer and requires more expensive drugs. MDR TB is defined as resistance to the two most effective first-line TB drugs, rifampicin and isoniazid. MDR TB is also resistant to three or more of the six classes of second-line drugs. Privately run hospitals and clinics are also aggravating the problem as most lack proper facilities to treat TB" he said.
The incidence of tuberculosis, an infectious disease that can lead to death, is widespread in the country. It is triggered by various strains of mycobacteria and typically attacks the lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body. It is spread through the air when people who have an active TB infection cough, sneeze or otherwise transmit respiratory fluids through the air, which affects people with a low immune system, children and those infect with HIV very quickly.
Thakur urged those displaying symptoms like persistent cough for over a week and weight loss to get a thorough checkup at a hospital.