Sindh trying to control outbreak of drug-resistant typhoid strain

Updated February 10, 2019


Officials, chemists, manufacturers are directed to ensure that the vital antibiotics are available in ample quantity. — AFP/File
Officials, chemists, manufacturers are directed to ensure that the vital antibiotics are available in ample quantity. — AFP/File

KARACHI: The Sindh he­a­lth ministry had asked all its drug inspectors, and rela­ted individuals and orga­nisations to ensure availability of two vital drugs that respond efficiently to the extensively drug-resistant (XDR) typh­oid strain that had affected thousands of people in the province and caused around a dozen dea­ths, officials said on Saturday.

The chief drug inspector of the province has asked the drug inspectors in all the districts of the province, the Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association, Pharma Bureau, Pakistan Che­mist and Druggist Assoc­iation, Sindh, and the Wholesale Karachi Pharma Organisation to ensure that two vital antibiotics should be available in ample quantity to save lives.

“These two drugs are very efficient in treating this dangerous disease that has already created havoc in most districts of Sindh and has caused some deaths in its capital as well,” said a senior official in the health ministry.

He shared the nomenclature of the two drugs with a request not to publicise them because many people in the country believed in self-medication and could get them without prescription from unregulated pharmacies.

The official said “there is an outbreak of XDR typhoid” in Sindh for which the provincial authorities were already in consultation with the World Health Organisation and other leading foreign agencies to ensure that it was controlled as soon as possible.

In some countries, the official said, Sindh was being cited as a place where health dangers could harm their citizens.

Officials said the typhoid strain in question was resistant to conventional and third-generation antibiotics. But the silver lining was that the two drugs were hugely effective to control it.

They said patients in many cases did not respond to third-generation cephalosporins, which were the drugs of choice before the outbreak of XDR typhoid in Sindh. “It surfaced in some districts of Sindh in 2016 and till now it has affected more than 8,000 people, including people residing in Karachi,” said a senior official.

The symptoms of this disease are similar to the normal typhoid strains — nausea, high-grade fever and chest infection, etc.

However, it does not respond to the drugs that had routinely been used by the doctors until recently.

“We have taken steps to ensure these drugs are present in the market and hospitals in sufficient quantity. These are being manufactured here by many pharmaceutical companies,” said another official.

He added that doctors and hospital staff had been advised to administer the two drugs to the patients showing the symptoms of typhoid. This was important to save time before the patients’ health deteriorated.

Since contaminated water was the major cause for typhoid and other such health hazards, Karachi was a place where XDR typhoid could create havoc if it was not reined in.

Published in Dawn, February 10th, 2019