Spread of TB, a highly contagious airborne disease caused by a bacterium known as Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which can spread easily even by breathing the air released by the infected person, is increasing once again. As per the report published in Lancet, a prominent medical journal, among the 63 lakh cases reported all over the world in the year 2014, around 20 lakh cases were from our country alone. Poor health care, sanitation and hygiene are some of the reasons for its spread. Irrational use of antibiotics making the bacterium more resistant to even multi-drug antibiotic treatment. Discontinuation of medicines due to prolonged treatment (2-6 months) is also another reason. TB can be cured completely provided the complete course of the medicines is taken as per the direction of the physicians. As tuberculosis is considered as a social stigma even today many may not be coming forward to take treatment at designated hospitals and some may remain carriers of this disease without manifestation of any symptom. However, TB may spread from these carriers to other weak persons, where it may establish the disease. Self medication of antibiotics, which are available over the counter without any prescription, adds to the problem. Added to this, it is strange to note that none of the pharmacies dispensed first line anti-TB drugs in major cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Patna, for the reasons best known to them. Proper counseling and taking medicines as advised by the doctors may bring the numbers down in the future.
Dr S V N Vijayendra, Mysuru