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 Multiple Drug Resistant Tuberculosis(MRTB)

 What is MRTB

- What it is
- Stop MRTB

MRTB means multi-drug resistant tuberculosis. This is a special kind of TB that has developed because people sick with TB have not taken their drugs correctly or for a long enough time.

TB is treated with a kind of drugs called antibiotics, these are made to attack and kill bacteria. When new antibiotics are developed to fight a disease such as tuberculosis, they are designed to attack a certain kind of bacteria. These drugs must be specific and only kill a certain kind of cell, or else they would hurt the human cells too, and that would make them dangerous.

But antibiotics must be used wisely. Because bacteria are living organisms, they are always changing in an effort to resist the drugs that can kill them. When antibiotics are used incorrectly, bacteria can adapt and become resistant. Antibiotics are then no longer useful in fighting them. Antibiotic resistance is now a major public health issue. Some strains of TB have become resistant to so many drugs now that, we are running out of new drugs with which to treat them. These are the strains referred to as multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MRTB).

Once bacteria have become resistant to a certain antibiotic, it will no longer work to kill them. If you keep treating these resistant bacteria with the same drugs after they become resistant, they will just keep on growing. But, if you use another drug to which they are not resistant, then they can be killed. This is why tuberculosis is treated with more than one type of drug at a time. Even if some of the bacteria in the patient are resistant to one or two drugs, the third should make sure that they are all killed.

To learn more about the proper use of antibiotics, see the Lung Association's "Antibiotics: do's and don'ts" website (http://www.lung.ca/antibiotics/).