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Indian woman infected with a rare drug-resistant strain of TB sets off scare in US

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New York: An Indian woman infected with a rare drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis has created a health scare in three US states and for people on her flight and is now being treated in a special isolation facility near Washington, health officials said on Tuesday.

The woman with extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR TB) travelled from India to Chicago and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that as a precautionary measure it will be contacting people who may have come into contact with her on the plane.

The woman has not been identified in keeping with the patient privacy regulations.

Asked about the flight, CDC spokesperson Tom Skinner said that the information was not available. “We likely wouldn’t provide that to you even if we had it,” he added. “We are able to get flight manifest and reach those who need to be reached. If for some reason we couldn’t get flight manifest and we needed to reach people by going public with flight number we would.”

Information about where she was from India was also not available.

CDC said, “The risk of getting a contagious disease on an airplane is low but public health officials sometimes need to alert travellers who may have been exposed to a sick passenger.

The woman, who arrived at Chicago’s O’Hare airport in April, visited Missouri and Tennessee before seeking medical treatment seven weeks after coming to the US, CDC said.

CDC said it is now working with the Illinois state Department of Health to identify people she may have been in contact with.

Based on her medical history and molecular testing, she was diagnosed with XDR TB, CDC said. She was placed in respiratory isolation at a suburban Chicago hospital and later transported by air ambulance to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center in Maryland, near Washington.

The National Institutes of Health said patient was in a “stable condition” at NIH Clinical Center in an isolation room in the specially designed for handling patients with respiratory infections like XDR TB.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) is treating the patient under an NIH clinical protocol for treating TB, including XDR TB, NIH said.

XDR TB is a rare type of TB that is resistant to nearly all medicines used to treat the disease. Technically, the CDC describes it as “resistant to isoniazid and rifampin, plus any fluoroquinolone and at least one of three injectable second-line drugs, that is, amikacin, kanamycin, or capreomycin”. (IANS)

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Cepheid to Establish Manufacturing Unit for TB Diagnostics in India

Rifampicin is a drug commonly used in treating TB bacteria in first line of treatment

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The GeneXpert Edge is developed specifically for near-patient testing, to help support a one visit test-and-treat approach.
The GeneXpert Edge is developed specifically for near-patient testing, to help support a one visit test-and-treat approach. (IANS)

Expanding its footprint in India, US-based molecular diagnostics company Cepheid Inc on Thursday announced its plans to establish a manufacturing unit in the country to improve Tuberculosis (TB) diagnostics.

Cepheid’s GeneXpert MTB/RIF test is a closed-cartridge-based system that is easy to operate by minimally trained staff and gives results in approximately two hours, speeding the conventional backlog that used to exist in traditional diagnostic methods.

The new manufacturing unit would produce MTB/RIF test cartridges, contribute to the government’s “Make in India” initiative and thus bringing the company’s global expertise in TB diagnostics to India, the company said in a statement.

As part of the plan, Cepheid also unveiled its latest portable, easy-to-use TB-testing system — the GeneXpert Edge — which is expected to be available in India later this year, the company said.

The GeneXpert Edge is developed specifically for near-patient testing, to help support a one visit test-and-treat approach.

“Cepheid recognises the need for technological advancement and is committed to contributing significantly to India’s goal of TB eradication,” said Peter Farrell, Executive Vice President, Worldwide Commercial Operations, Cepheid.

Cepheid's Xpert MTB/RIF test has the potential to detect Mycobacterium tuberculosis(MTB)
Cepheid’s Xpert MTB/RIF test has the potential to detect Mycobacterium tuberculosis(MTB).

“We are hopeful that GeneXpert Edge will help eliminate delays in TB diagnostics by providing definitive results within hours and facilitating fast and easy last-mile delivery even in the remote villages of India,” he added.

India has nearly one-fourth of the global TB patients and an estimated 4.8 lakh lives are lost every year due to delayed diagnosis and inadequate treatment and there are above 2.5 million new cases of TB every year. The country aims to eradicate TB by 2025.

Approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2010, more than 1,200 Cepheid’s GeneXpert Systems have been installed in the last two years at various Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) sites in the country and more than 2.5 million cartridges were supplied last year at various centres of Central TB Division (CTD).

Also Read: Fruit Bats Identified As Source Of Nipah Virus Outbreak in Kerala

Cepheid’s Xpert MTB/RIF test has the potential to detect Mycobacterium tuberculosis(MTB) and rifampicin-resistance mutations, which are markers for MDR-TB strains in under two hours.

Rifampicin is a drug commonly used in treating TB bacteria in first line of treatment.

Xpert MTB/RIF tests also have excellent negative predictive value, which allows clinicians to manage TB-negative patients more effectively to prevent unnecessary and costly respiratory isolations. (IANS)