According to Center for Disease Control, patient who arrived in US from India is being treated at National Institute of Health Clinical Center at Bethseda, Maryland.
Health officials are trying to track down people who might have had been in contact with a woman diagnosed with rare form of TB.
The patient arrived in the US from India in April and passed through Chicago’s O’Hare airport. She also traveled through Tennessee and Missouri and seven weeks after her arrival, she sought treatment and was diagnosed with the rare tuberculosis.
She is currently being treated at National Institute of Health Clinical Center at Bethseda, Maryland and is in a stable condition, according to the Center for Disease Control.
She has XDR-TB which is an extensively drug resistant form of the normal TB. It is resistant to at least four of the drugs which make up the core of anti-TB drugs.
According to WHO, XDR-TB takes longer to treat and requires the use of anti-TB drugs which are not only more expensive but have more side-effects as well than the ones primarily used against TB.
Tuberculosis is caused by a bacterial infection and can spread through air. The bacteria tends to attack the patient’s lungs but can also affect the brain, spine and kidneys. It is usually fatal but early diagnosis and treatment can help cure and prevent the disease.
Contact tracing is being conducted to find out people who the patient has been in contact with for prolonged periods of time, especially the people who have been on the same flight as her as officials want to test them for TB and to treat them.
A CDC spokesperson, Tom Skinner said, “The likelihood that the person transmitted the disease is low but as it is a serious illness we can’t take chances so we need to get contacts in for testing. TB is a serious illness and XDR-TB is difficult to treat.”
It is estimated that about one third of the world’s population has latent tuberculosis. This means that the TB is dormant and these people have not developed the disease and hence cannot transmit it. People who have been infected with TB have a 10% chance of falling ill with TB.
Those with weak immune systems or diagnosed with HIV, are at a greater risk of developing TB or even the rarer form XDR-TB. But the risk of getting infected and developing the disease increases with time spent near an already infected person, especially in cramped and poorly ventilated areas. A TB infection in open spaces such as the outdoors is very low.
XDR-TB patients are curable but their odds are not as good as those diagnosed with common TB. Symptoms of both diseases are similar: cough with mucus for more than two weeks, fever, fatigue, night chills, muscle pain and in rare cases chest pain. It is better to get a thorough evaluation by a doctor if these symptoms persist for more than a week.