Mumbai: All private and public hospitals have been asked to follow up on patients who have recovered from Covid-19 to check for signs of tuberculosis-like symptoms such as cough, loss of appetite and fatigue, among others, according to civic officials. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has issued a circular to this effect.
Dr Lalit Anande, medical superintendent, Sewri TB hospital, said around 135 TB patients had contracted Covid, of whom 18 had succumbed due to late diagnosis. Patients with low immunity are vulnerable to both Covid-19 and TB. “Co-infection cases have been identified in new TB patients who underwent testing thinking it was Covid-19, but their CT scan showed a different form of clouding in their lungs and their sputum culture confirmed that they were also carrying TB bacteria," he said.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), TB and Covid-19 are both infectious diseases that primarily attack the lungs. Both diseases have similar symptoms - cough, fever and difficulty in breathing. “As the pandemic advances, more people of all ages, including TB patients, will be exposed to Covid-19,” reads the note released by WHO in May.
Dr Pranita Tipre, deputy health officer, TB, BMC, said they were thoroughly checking every corona patient for signs of TB and running sputum tests. However, she said, “So far, we have not diagnosed any recovered Covid-19 patients with TB.” However, the BMC has also added TB in its questionnaire for the door-to-door survey under its 'Your Family, Your Responsibility' plan.
Health activists and social workers have welcomed the move, stating it will help identify Covid-19 TB patients left undiagnosed. "When a patient is found Covid-positive, many hospitals don't run a sputum test for TB. So, there is no way to know if the person also has TB, as the symptoms are similar. Thus, it is important to check on these recovered patients, as TB has a longer incubation period with a slower onset of disease," said TB activist Ganesh Acharya.