Typhidot is a widely prescribed medical test often used by quacks and junior doctors to diagnose typhoid fever in Pakistan, but leading health experts have declared its results unreliable.
In exclusive conversations with SAMAA Digital, senior medical practitioners have called for a ban on the test to prevent antibiotic abuse.
The pros and cons of the Typhidot test have been debated for years and in the past experts have insisted that it must be discouraged.
Now health experts have explained how the test
and its results are setting off a medical catastrophe in the country.
Dr Naseem Salahuddin, an infectious disease specialist at Indus Hospital,
told Sama Digital that Pakistan has a plethora of small clinics that
prescribe Typhidot tests for minor fevers and there are dozens of laboratories
that are conducting these tests.
Typhidot test for the diagnosis of typhoid often comes out false positive and the results are not reliable, says Dr Naseem adding that prescribing antibiotics on the basis of this test was wrong.
On the one hand, it is leading to increased antibiotic resistance and, on the other hand, laboratories and clinics are minting money, she said.
“They are playing with the lives of patients, though WHO and the Microbiology
and Infectious Diseases Society of Pakistan have banned this test.”
Millions of cases of typhoid fever are reported in Pakistan every year. Medical practitioners use blood culture tests to diagnose typhoid if the fever lasts for over one week. However, the wrong diagnosis has led to antibiotic abuse and the cases of resistance to antibiotics have been increasing in the country since 2016.
Dr Muhammad Inaam Khan, Assistant Professor
at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, told Sama Digital that although Typhidot
is conducted from Karachi to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa there is no recommendation for
it in the clinical books.
“This is not a test for typhoid, and only
quacks or some of our junior practitioners prescribe it knowingly. It comes out
positive in 99% of the cases, that is, false positive. As a result, the patient
begins treatment for typhoid without having any [genuine] symptoms of typhoid,”
As a result of this misdiagnosis, the
patient is injected for one or two weeks with ceftriaxone, which is an
expensive medicine, Dr Inaam said adding that the overuse has reduced the efficacy
of this medicine.
Because of the Typhidot test and the misuse of antibiotics, cases of typhoid resistance are on the rise, he said.
Reputable laboratories have banned this test but small laboratories and clinics conduct Typhidot regularly, according to Dr Inaam.
He urged the government to ban not only the
test but also the imports of its kits.
Quacks have built their business around Typhidot
and a ban against the test would not only prevent antibiotic abuse but also put
an end to wrong medical treatment, says Dr Inaam.
Health experts warn that antibiotic resistance was going to develop into a medical catastrophe because if the situation persisted most of the medicines will lose efficacy against several illnesses.
They urged the government to launch an
operation against quacks whose number, they said, was growing with every
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