COIMBATORE: At a time when Covid-19 cases are coming down, Tamil Nadu is facing a new challenge as Tuberculosis (TB) cases are increasing.
Data from the TB division of the district health department revealed that the number of active cases in Coimbatore went up between July and August when compared to the second quarter of the year.
As many as 700 people were diagnosed with TB between July and August in government health care facilities across the district. Whereas, only 444 cases were recorded between April and June. As of Wednesday, there are 1,200 active TB cases in Coimbatore. A majority of the patients was diabetics in the 45-plus age group.
Across Tamil Nadu, 10,852 TB cases were recorded between April and June and 17,848 cases between July and September. Officials attributed the rise to the vigorous field surveys conducted to diagnose the infected patients. The health department aims at eliminating TB by 2025.
Sources said the drop seen during April to June was due to the Covid-19 pandemic when people were reluctant to get tested for TB as the symptoms are similar.
Speaking to TNIE, Deputy Director of Medical Services (Tuberculosis) M Sakthivel said, "Symptoms for Covid-19 and TB are similar, which was why many people refused to get tested. With Covid-19 cases coming down, we have intensified our drive to diagnose and treat the TB patients across the district," he said.
Explaining problems faced by health workers during inspections, he said people were reluctant to get an x-ray. "People were afraid because they thought they would be subjected to RT-PCR test, but staff convinced them to undergo the x-ray to diagnose chest involvement. Based on the report of their sputum sample, they were given treatment," he explained.
V Thenmozhi, the district programme coordinator of the National TB Elimination Programme, said the department provides four types of drugs that shall be consumed for six months in case of sensitive TB. The medication shall go beyond nine months to 1.5 years if the TB is drug-resistant, she added.