AMK patient had latent TB but stopped preventive treatment

Mr Effandy (left), who has been diagnosed with drug-resistant TB, with his mother Susi Nander and 21-year-old brother Zulkifli, both of whom have been screened for the disease and cleared.
Mr Effandy (left), who has been diagnosed with drug-resistant TB, with his mother Susi Nander and 21-year-old brother Zulkifli, both of whom have been screened for the disease and cleared.PHOTO: COURTESY OF MADAM SUSI NANDER

When Mr Effandy Rahmat was diagnosed with latent tuberculosis (TB) in May last year, he was told to go to a polyclinic every day for preventive treatment.

But his work shifts as a waiter made the clinic visits challenging. Worse, the medication had side effects - it gave him rashes and made him cough up blood. He stopped going after two weeks.

That proved to be a costly mistake. In October, the 25-year-old was diagnosed with multi-drug-resistant TB and is still in hospital getting treatment.

He is one of six people living in a housing block in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3 who were diagnosed with the same strain of drug-resistant TB over a four-year period.

"At that time, I had no clue what TB was," said Mr Effandy, explaining why he stopped going for treatment.

"They told me that the symptoms are weight loss, appetite loss and a prolonged cough, but I had none except the cough. My body was totally normal."

Even the cough was not a concern, he noted, since he had been a smoker from the age of 18.

Latent TB is not uncommon here and is estimated to affect between 2 per cent and 29 per cent of Singaporeans. Someone with a latent infection does not have symptoms or feel sick, and cannot spread TB to others.

But one in 10 will eventually develop an active form of the disease.

Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao reported that Mr Effandy's mother and brother have been screened for the disease and cleared.

Madam Susi Nander, Mr Effandy's mother, said he was allowed to return home for three hours last month to celebrate his younger brother's birthday.

The 49-year-old cleaner added: "Hari Raya is coming, I want to celebrate together (with him), but I don't know (whether) can or not.".

Linette Lai

Jeremy Koh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 18, 2016, with the headline 'AMK patient had latent TB but stopped preventive treatment'. Print Edition | Subscribe