HYDERABAD: As the menace of the drug-resistant typhoid continues to claim new victims while terrifying a large section of the health-conscious populace, experts on Monday warned of a looming, yet preventable, catastrophe.
"What if the two antibiotics curing XDR typhoid patients lost their efficacy?" This question was echoed at a conference organised at Mehran University of Engineering and Technology's US-Pakistan Centre for Advanced Studies in Water (USPCASW).
"Currently, only two antibiotics are helping XDR typhoid patients recover their health," observed Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences (LUMHS) Vice Chancellor Prof Bikha Ram Devrajani with concern. "But if they no longer remained efficacious, a human catastrophe will emerge," he said.
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According to him, no other medicine is available globally to cure XDR typhoid except the two antibiotics. USPCASW Deputy Director Dr Rasool Bux Mahar said the third generation of antibiotics is being used against XDR typhoid. "If this medicine (Azithromycin) lost its efficacy, the doctors are unlikely to have any other treatment procedure to offer to the patients," he cautioned.
"Without the medicines with which we are treating XDR typhoid, this illness can kill a person within two months," said Hyderabad District Health Officer (DHO) Dr Nasreen Memon.
Prof Devrajani regretted that the quacks [fake doctors] and doctors with questionable practice prescribe excessive antibiotics to their patients, leading to their inefficacy with the passage of time.
"Water has become the primary source for XDR typhoid," noted the VC.
Dr Mahar apprised that students at his centre collected water samples from 32 places in Hyderabad and found bacteria present in 21 of them.
According to the DHO, the consumption of fast food was another reason of the typhoid. "Mostly the children fall ill after consuming fast food," said Dr Memon.
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Dr Hussain Bux Kolachi of Isra University pointed to the use of sewage water to irrigate crops of vegetables and fruits as one more cause of spread of typhoid bacteria. "The food served in marriage halls is also causing typhoid," he claimed.
Prof Devrajani asked people to boil drinking water to kill bacteria causing typhoid. He also advised them to immediately take medical help and blood tests to diagnose the disease if certain symptoms appear in their bodies.
Dr Mahar contended that containing the spread of water-borne diseases will be difficult until the government ensured supply of clean drinking water to the people. He suggested that the government should slap a ban on the sale of antibiotic medicines in the pharmacies as a measure to curtail their widespread consumption. "Antibiotics should be given only after prescription by a qualified doctor."
Meanwhile, Dr Memon informed that in coordination with Agha Khan University Hospital around 170,000 children in Hyderabad have been immunised against XDR typhoid. Dr Kolachi emphasised on reducing the price of the medicines curing typhoid to make them affordable for the underprivileged.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 23rd, 2019.
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