Drug-resistant TB is difficult but treatable

Washington D.C: A team of scientists has successfully treated a child with drug-resistant TB, which is difficultly diagnosed.

Johns Hopkins Children’s Center specialists report they have successfully treated and put in remission a 2-year-old, now age 5, with a highly virulent form of tuberculosis known as XDR TB, or extensively drug-resistant TB.

The case, researchers say, provides the first detailed account of a young child in the United States diagnosed and treated for XDR TB.

The bug’s resistance to most known TB drugs renders it, particularly, challenging to treat in anyone but even more so in children, the team says, with only a handful of cases of children younger than 5 described in the medical literature worldwide.

Despite the successful outcome, the experts say the child’s case underscores the shape-shifting nature of a bacterium increasingly resistant to drugs, and the serious challenges of monitoring and treating pediatric TB.

Researcher Sanjay Jain said that they are thrilled that the patient is doing so well, but at the same time, this is a wake-up call to the realities of TB.

In an account of the case, the Johns Hopkins team describes the hurdles they faced throughout the child’s treatment along with several “pearls” of clinical wisdom gleaned from it.

The study is published online in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.