Totally drug-resistant TB cases considered artifacts

The 12 cases of totally drug-resistant tuberculosis identified recently in India, like the original two cases confirmed in Italy in 2003, are being considered artifacts, created by poorly chosen and insufficient drug treatment.

The Italian cases were both identified by local doctors and treated repeatedly with normal TB drugs. After three rounds of treatment in each case, medical personnel noticed that something unusual was occurring, according to

The first case, a woman below the age of 50, is believed to have caught multi-drug resistant TB from her mother. She would eventually be treated at three different hospitals with 17 different antibiotics over a period of 14 months. She took TB drugs for 94 months before the infection eventually killed her.

The second case, also a woman, was in inpatient care for 625 days and also took 17 kinds of antibiotics. She would stay on a drug regimen for 60 months before succumbing.

According to a report in the journal EuroSuveillance, published by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, the resistance to treatment was something developed over time.

"Case one was initially mismanaged, and then admitted at the reference hospital being already resistant to the majority of the available drugs," the study says, reports. "Case two management and adherence to the regimen prescribed was sub-optimal before admission to the reference hospital."

Experts say that even if TDR-TB is acquired from poor treatment, it may still be possible to spread it from person to person.