Tuberculosis is completely curable if the patient takes the right drugs for the right duration without any interruption, but if there is no proper adherence to the medicine, it can even lead to death, National Tuberculosis Institute Director, Dr. Somashekar N. said on Wednesday.
About the TB treatment which goes on quite some time, he said that for a complete cure, the patient should strictly take TB drugs for a minimum of six months, but based on the type of TB, this treatment period may be longer as well.
“This is because the bacterium Mycobacterium Tuberculosis progresses slowly, divides very slowly and it takes a long time for it to progress from a mere infection to TB disease. This is why long therapy is needed,” Somashekhar said, at a webinar on TB prevalence in India ahead of the World Tuberculosis Day on March 24.
Around 10 to 12 per cent of recovered patients can catch TB again, he said, adding that this is called relapse/recurring TB and is most seen in smokers, alcoholics, and people with uncontrolled diabetes.
“Under-nourishment is another reason. This is why even after completion of treatment, post-treatment follow-up is given where patients visit every six months, up to a period of two years, even if there is no symptom. If any TB symptom is seen during this period, the patient should immediately approach the doctor,” he said.
On the correlation between tuberculosis and Covid-19, NTI’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Ravichandra C. said that so far there is no evidence of direct relation between them.
“Only area of curiosity is increasing number of extra pulmonary TB cases. Wherever there are more Covid-19 cases, more extra pulmonary TB cases are being reported,” he added.
India accounts for around 26 per cent of the world’s total cases of TB, which is one of the most infectious killers, causing more deaths than malaria or AIDS.