What is drug-resistant TB?
We’ve talked a lot about TB prevention and treatment, but what happens if someone has a strain of TB that resists regular treatment? Here’s everything you need to know.
What is drug-resistant TB
Drug-resistant TB's a form of tuberculosis (TB) infection caused by bacteria that doesn't respond to treatment. It can occur when the drugs used to treat TB are misused or mismanaged, causing the TB bacteria to become stronger than the medication, making it resistant to treatment.
How does it spread?
Drug-resistant TB's spread from person-to-person through the air when an infected person coughs or even speaks. That’s why it’s important to go to your nearest clinic if you have any TB-related symptoms or if you think you may have been exposed to the disease.
Who is at risk?
People who have been diagnosed with TB and do not take their medication as directed by a healthcare professional or those who are re-infected with TB, are more at risk of developing drug-resistant TB. Another way you could get infected is if you're in an area where drug-resistant TB's common or if you've been around someone who's infected with it.
How is it treated?
There are different types of drug-resistant TB and each of them are treated differently. When someone's diagnosed with this type of TB, depending on their condition, they may have to be isolated and placed under the care of a specialist who'll assess and treat them for about six to eighteen months.
Can it be prevented?
Getting tested for TB and catching it early as well as making sure you take your treatment as advised if you are diagnosed, can reduce the risk of TB becoming drug-resistant. If you are living with HIV, make sure you take your ARV medication and get tested for TB if you suspect you may have it. Early detection can greatly reduce the risk of contracting drug-resistant TB.
Drug-resistant TB is life-threatening so it’s important to make sure you get tested as soon as you suspect you may have TB so you can start treatment and reduce the risk of it developing into a drug-resistant strain.
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