MUMBAI—Here on center stage in the global crisis of drug-resistant tuberculosis, top doctors are sounding a new alarm: India’s emergency strategy to defeat the disease may be having the opposite effect—encouraging TB instead to mutate into more deadly and unstoppable strains.
In its new strategy, India is treating some, and perhaps many, drug-resistant TB patients with drugs that they are already resistant to. That can allow the bacteria to build resistance to new drugs as well.
On Friday, a prominent specialist described research to The Wall Street Journal showing that the government’s treatment plan wouldn’t work on fully two-thirds of the 300 patients analyzed at one major Mumbai hospital. The results suggest India’s plan is “a futile exercise” that will “serve to amplify resistance,” said the researcher, Dr. Zarir Udwadia. “It is morally and medically disastrous.”
In our modern world of global travel, incurable TB would seem likely to accompany infected victims from the home source, currently India, China and Russia. Hell, it might already be in Hawaii – perhaps we should quarantine Michelle O there, just to be safe.