TB cases go undetected in Kerala - The New Indian Express

TB cases go undetected in Kerala

Published: 13th November 2013 12:40 PM

Last Updated: 13th November 2013 12:40 PM

A large number of tuberculosis (TB) cases in the state are going undetected as early diagnosis of the disease is not being carried out effectively.

Even health department officials confirm that if a survey is undertaken, it would reveal an alarming number of patients in the clutches of this airborne disease.

This comes at a time when TB was included in the national list of notifiable (infectious) diseases in May 2012. The primary cause cited behind this trend is the stigma associated with the disease.

“A general practitioner cannot give a final verdict. Only a pulmonologist can decide whether it is TB or not. Usually people consult a GP who would prescribe tests. Many patients ignore to undergo these tests as they never suspect that it could be TB,” said Dr S Jayasankar, State TB Officer and Additional Director of Health Services.

He said to avoid such a scenario, it should be made mandatory that when a person has chronic cough, his or her sputum should be examined. Rincy A U, senior TB treatment supervisor, Ernakulam taluk level, said TB cases were common in communities that have not achieves basic standards of living.  “Unawareness coupled with the reluctance of patients to take medication deteriorate the situation. TB patients have to take seven pills on alternate days. Since most of these people they fail to understand its gravity, they leave the medication midway which worsens the situation,” she pointed out.

According to sources with the health department, inadequate fund is a stumbling block in carrying out any sort of awareness activity.

“When a person is diagnosed with TB, members of 20 houses around the patient’s habitat should be examined. In Irumbanam, Ernakulam, when the health team examined the wife of a TB patient, she was tested positive. Even their children were found to be infected with the disease later. There could be many such cases, if surveyed.  A death due to TB was registered in Ernakulam last year,” they said.

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