Dr. Debkishore Gupta, Consultant and Head of Department of Infection Prevention and Control, C.K. Birla Hospitals, spoke to BE’s Ellora De regarding the present condition of infectious diseases.
Q. What are the main challenges in treating infectious diseases in the present scenario?
A. The main challenge lies in the extreme paucity in treatment options. The common infections are often multiple drugs resistant or extensively drug resistant. Occasionally, total drug resistance is also observed. Indiscriminate use of broad spectrum antibiotics is largely responsible for this dangerous scenario where we are left with only one or two antibiotics. On top of that, there is hardly any new antibiotic in the pipeline and that makes the future even more alarming.
Q. How alarming is the issue of drug resistance in India?
A. Drug resistance in India is a huge concern now. Certain deadly bugs are resistant to 70-80% of the broad spectrum antibiotics. Oral options are rarely available. This type of drug resistance has extended to treating tuberculosis as
well. A total drug resistant tuberculosis bug has been reported. The World Health Organisation has declared this situation as “post-antibiotic era” where antibiotics have stopped working.
Q. How can the problem of drug resistance be controlled?
A. Drug resistance can be controlled by judicious use of antibiotics and by completely avoiding antibiotics when infection is not confirmed. Strict regulatory measures should be enforced by the government. The use of few life-saving highly broad spectrum antibiotics should be restricted. The use of such drugs should be strictly supervised by a doctor who is trained in infectious diseases or in clinical microbiology.
Q. What is your opinion regarding hospital acquired infections?
A. Hospital acquired infections are a global challenge now. These are responsible for increased hospital stay and death and also for extra treatment cost. But these infections are controllable if proper infection control measures are in place. Strict surveillance is the need of the hour.
Q. There is much discussion on Nipah virus infection. What precautions can be taken to control it?
A. There is no specific treatment for the Nipah virus infection. Only supportive care can be offered. But this infection can definitely be contained if proper isolation facilities are available and personal protection methods are duly taken.
Q. What are the limitations in the field of viral infection?
A. Diagnosis is a big problem for viral infections. Not every laboratory is equipped with adequate infrastructure to do the testing. Antiviral drugs are also limited.