THE Ministry of Health has called on tuberculosis patients in the country to be vigilant and faithful with their treatment programs following the recent release of the country's first Multi Drug Resistant TB (MDR) patient.
PJ Twomey Hospital's medical officer Doctor Frank Underwood confirmed a man had been earlier taken into their care for a month after the resistant strain of TB was detected in him.
Dr Underwood said the resistant strain of TB found in the victim was resistant to rifampicin — one of the stronger medications out of the four that was administered to TB patients.
"Treatment for the patient will now take two more years compared to the minimal amount of time needed to treat a person suffering from normal TB," he said.
"The patient used to be treated at Twomey Hospital and was later released to his community to be administered to by the TB treatment supervisor in his community.
"However, he refused to follow the daily treatment program and this led to the TB virus becoming stronger until it reached the critical stage."
Dr Underwood said at its critical stage, the disease would become resistant to medication and this often led to death.
"Better still, it was fortunate that none of the people in his community contracted the disease since it is an airborne disease.
"We later did check-ups in the patient's community and closely followed the patient's relatives and friends, normally those that he closely associated himself with, but no positive signs of the MDR strain were found on any of them.
"However, we will continue to monitor the community for a period of time to ensure that people do not develop the strain of TB."
Dr Underwood said the critical stage of TB could only be contracted from failure to follow medication program or from a person who already had the MDR strain.
"It is also important that people get checked to ensure that they are free from TB or any other diseases for that matter," he said.