The Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health has identified a recent active case of tuberculosis as a multidrug-resistant strain, meaning it’s not responding to the most powerful first-line drugs used to treat TB.
In the past week, nearly 150 students at Fort Wayne Community Schools have been screened for tuberculosis after one of their peers was diagnosed with active TB in December. The health department did not know the person’s case was multidrug resistant until recently, department spokesman John Silcox said.
It’s the first known case of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis in Allen County, he said.
Multidrug-resistant TB is spread the same way as regular TB, but it does not respond to the common drugs used to treat the disease, Health Commissioner Dr. Deborah McMahon said.
A patient with multidrug-resistant TB must be treated with a second line of drugs, McMahon said, and if that does not work, a third line, and so on.
“The farther you go, the less effective the treatment,” McMahon said.
A person with a regular case of TB is treated with four drugs over six months; a person with multidrug-resistant TB must be treated with six medications—including shots—for two years, McMahon said.
In addition to two years of treatment, the person must have the infected part of his or her lungs surgically removed, she said.
The school and health department did not release information on the student, citing privacy laws.