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Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberclosis

What is MDR TB?

MDR TB is drug resistant TB. It means that the TB bacteria of infected person are resistant to isoniazid (INH) and rifampicin (RMP). These are two  most important TB drugs. If bacteria is resistant to a TB drug means that this drug will not work. In such situation other drugs are taken. Unfortunately other drugs are less effective therefore these are to be taken for longer period. MDR TB is also known as Multi Drug Resistant TB.

What is Extensively Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis (XDR TB)?

Extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR TB) is a rare type of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR TB) that is resistant to isoniazid and rifampin, plus any fluoroquinolone and at least one of three injectable second-line drugs (i.e., amikacin, kanamycin, or capreomycin).

How is XDR TB spread?

Drug-susceptible TB, MDR TB and XDR TB spread the same way. When a person with lung TB, coughs, sneezes, shouts, or sings these bacteria are released in air. These bacteria can float in the air for several hours depending on the environmental conditions. A healthy person when take breath in the air containing  TB bacteria, he can be infected.

TB does not spread by :

  • shaking someone’s hand
  • sharing food or drink
  • touching bed linens or toilet seats
  • sharing toothbrushes
How long does it take to find out if you have XDR TB?

If TB bacteria are found in the sputum (phlegm), the diagnosis of TB can be made in a day or two, but this finding will not be able to distinguish between drug-susceptible TB and drug-resistant TB. To determine drug susceptibility, the bacteria need to be grown and tested in a specialized laboratory. Final diagnosis for TB, and especially for XDR TB, may take from 6 to 16 weeks.

Who is at risk for getting XDR TB?

Drug-resistant TB (MDR or XDR) is more common in people who :

  • Do not take their TB medicine regularly
  • Do not take all of their TB medicines as prescribed by their doctor
  • Develop TB disease again, after having taken TB medicine in the past
  • Come from areas of the world where drug-resistant TB is common
  • Have spent time with someone known to have drug-resistant TB disease
How can I prevent myself from getting TB?

Avoid close contact for a prolonged period of time with known TB patients in crowded, enclosed environments like clinics, hospitals, prisons, or homeless shelters.

I have drug-susceptible TB, how can I prevent getting drug-resistant TB?

The most important thing for you is to continue taking all your TB medicines exactly as prescribed. No dose should be missed and treatment should not be stopped early. You should tell your doctor if you are having trouble taking the medications or if you have any side effects. If you plan to travel, talk with your doctor, and make sure you have enough medicine to last while away.

What are the symptoms of XDR TB?

The general symptoms of TB disease include feelings of sickness or weakness, weight loss, fever, and night sweats. The symptoms of TB disease of the lungs may also include coughing, chest pain, and coughing up blood. Symptoms of TB disease in other parts of the body depend on the area affected. If you have these symptoms, you should contact your doctor.

Can XDR TB be treated and cured?

Yes, in some cases. Some TB control programs have shown that cure is possible for an estimated 30% to 50% of affected people. Successful outcomes depend greatly on the extent of the drug resistance, the severity of the disease,  immune status of the patient, and adherence to treatment.

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