Killer TB Hits India

An incurable form of tuberculosis has turned up on the subcontinent.

Bob Grant
Bob Grant

Bob Grant is Editor in Chief of The Scientist, where he started in 2007 as a Staff Writer.

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An SEM of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteriaWIKIMEDIA COMMONS, CDC - JANICE CARR

Just as India celebrated the one-year anniversary of what appears to be the last child to be infected with polio in that country, physicians there have reported the occurrence of a dreaded disease: a deadly form of tuberculosis that is completely resistant to any of the drugs typically used to treat it. They described patients with the incurable illness, called totally drug-resistant tuberculosis (TDR-TB), in the February issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases.

This new finding makes India the third country in which TDR-TB has appeared. Cases of the disease turned up in Italy in 2007 and in Iran in 2009, though some researchers claim that TDR-TB is just a more severe form of extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB), which has been found in at least 58 countries across the globe.

A variety of factors could have led...

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