Little did a teenager from Darjeeling imagine that a harmless boil on his back would land him in the ICU. The 14-year-old was admitted in Khar's Hinduja Healthcare Surgical Hospital with acute pneumonia after the infection from his boil spread via blood to his lung and started affecting his kidneys and brain. But after spending three weeks at the hospital, he is now on his way to recovery.
Dr Yogesh Velaskar, intensivist at Hinduja Healthcare Surgical-Khar said: "He was admitted for a week before his parents brought him to Mumbai. He was breathless and had symptoms of pneumonia."
The hospital sent his blood and sputum samples for tests to diagnose his illness. "He had a swollen leg and the breathlessness had worsened to a level where we had to put him on ventilator. We started him off on broad spectrum antibiotics," said Dr Velaskar.
Dr Velaskar further added that the boy refused to respond to the treatment and his condition only worsened. "There was a time when we were doubting whether he would survive. He showed symptoms indicating the stage before coma. The multi-organ dysfunction worried us," said Dr Velaskar.
With most of the antibiotics not working, doctors decided to rely on the third line of antibiotics. "It was clear that the boy was resistant to most of the antibiotics we were trying. Our last hope was third line antibiotics. Luckily on the 6th and 7th day, he started showing signs of improvement," said Dr Velaskar.
The boy is presently recuperating and will soon be discharged from the hospital. "His case is the best example on why we should use antibiotics wisely. If antibiotics are not used wisely, as per the sensitivity report and in proper dosage, the patient can become resistant to them and it becomes difficult to bring the disease under control. In this boy's case, a normal boil on the back led him to a near-death situation," said Dr Velaskar.
The WHO in its recent report, 'Antimicrobial resistance: global report on surveillance' noted that resistance is occurring across many different infectious agents. Its report focused on antibiotic resistance in seven different bacteria responsible for common, serious diseases such as bloodstream infections (sepsis), diarrhoea, pneumonia, urinary tract infections and gonorrhoea. It said that the results are cause for high concern, documenting resistance to antibiotics, especially "last resort" antibiotics, in all regions of the world.
According to the report, antibiotic resistance is a burgeoning problem in WHO's South-East Asia Region, which is home to a quarter of the world's population.
Realising the threat, the Indian Medical Association has started a campaign to educate its doctors on judicial use of antibiotics. Dr Jayant Lele, general secretary, Indian Medical Association's Maharashtra branch said, "The decision was taken in a recent IMA meeting at its headquarter in Rajasthan. We plan to educate our doctors on the rationale use of antibiotics while prescribing."