A recent study has found that people who have tuberculosis and remain undiagnosed for diabetes could pose a threat to public health. The study, by a team of researchers from across the country, has come up with alarming data. The prevalence of diabetes in persons with TB is almost double that of the general population, the study revealed.

A survey of 827 respondents registered with five centres in the State under the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP), for Directly Observed Treatment Short-course therapy, found that a fourth of those surveyed were in the pre-diabetes stage and another 25 per cent were diabetic. “We also detected some new cases,” said Vijay Vishwanathan of M.V. Hospital for Diabetes, which participated in the study.

The results were published in PLoS ONE, a peer-reviewed open access journal. “Diabetics who suffer tuberculosis are easily diagnosed for the condition but the reverse is not true. Many persons with TB who become diabetic are unaware of their condition and they do not respond well to TB drugs. When TB relapses, it is a serious threat as these people can transmit the infection,” Dr. Vishwanathan said.

“In countries where TB is prevalent, people with diabetes are at three times the risk of acquiring the infectious disease,” he added.

Dr. Vishwanathan suggested that all those being treated for TB be screened for diabetes, as early diagnosis will help manage both diseases. “The government has a national programme for control of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke (NPCDS). The RNTCP should be integrated with the NPCDS so that everyone who has TB is also screened for diabetes,” he added.