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Glossary on Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by a Bacterium, Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It is spread through the air by a person suffering from TB. A single patient can infect 10 or more people in a year.

Directly Observed Treatment, Short-course (DOTS)

The DOTS strategy along with the other components of the Stop TB strategy, implemented under the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) in India, is a comprehensive package for TB control.

The DOTS strategy is cost-effective and is today the international standard for TB control programmes. To date, more than 180 countries are implementing the DOTS strategy. India has adapted and tested the DOTS strategy in various parts of the country since 1993, with excellent results, and by March 2006 nationwide DOTS coverage has been achieved.

Multidrug-resistant TB

Multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) caused by MTB, resistant to both isoniazid and rifampicin, with or without resistance to other drugs, is among the most worrisome elements of the pandemic of antibiotic resistance. Globally, about three per cent of all newly-diagnosed patients have MDR-TB. The proportion is higher in patients who have previously received anti-TB treatment reflecting the failure of programmes designed to ensure complete cure of patients with TB. While host genetic factors may probably contribute, incomplete and inadequate treatment is the most important factor leading to the development of MDR-TB.

Extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) is a form of TB caused by bacteria that is resistant to the most effective anti-TB drugs. It has emerged from the mismanagement of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) and once created, can spread from one person to another.

One in three people in the world is infected with TB bacteria. Only when the bacteria become active do people become ill with TB. Bacteria become active as a result of anything that can reduce the person's immunity, such as HIV, advancing age, or some medical conditions. TB can usually be treated with a course of four standard, or first-line, anti-TB drugs. If these drugs are misused or mismanaged, multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) can develop. MDR-TB takes longer to treat with second-line drugs, which are more expensive and have more side-effects. XDR-TB can develop when these second-line drugs are also misused or mismanaged and therefore also become ineffective.