Tuberculosis in Europe: A problem of drug resistance or much more?

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Tuberculosis has re-emerged as a public health concern in high-income countries in the last few decades. The European region accounts for only 5% of world TB cases. The incidence of new TB cases in Europe varies from very low rates in Scandinavian countries (six to eight cases/100,000 population) to rates as high as 231 cases/100,000 population in Tajikistan; the Russian Federation is eleventh among the 22 high-burden TB countries. The estimated detection rate of new sputum smear-positive pulmonary cases and the treatment success rate in 2007 were poor compared with other WHO regions: 51% of cases were diagnosed and 70% of them completed a full course of anti-TB therapy, which is still a long way from the World Health Assembly targets (detection of 70% of infectious cases and successful treatment of 85% of them). The low success rate is largely attributable to the increasing number of drug-resistant TB cases: Eastern European countries are among those with the highest rates of multidrug-resistant (MDR)-TB (TB resistant to rifampicin and isoniazid) in the world. By the end of September 2009, at least one case of extensively drug-resistant TB (named XDR-TB and defined as a MDR-TB strain with additional resistance to any fluoroquinolone, and to at least one of three injectable drugs used in anti-TB treatment) had been reported by 25 countries in the WHO European Region. In Western Europe, TB continues to cause disease among elderly native-born individuals, although high-risk groups including immigrants, prisoners, HIV-infected persons and drug addicts significantly contribute to the overall burden. Improved TB control in Europe requires a large coordinated effort by all stakeholders, including governments, governmental and non-governmental institutions, as well as the academic and private sectors and affected communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-200
Number of pages12
JournalExpert Review of Respiratory Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2010


  • Elderly
  • Epidemiology
  • Europe
  • HIV infection
  • MDR-TB
  • Substance abuse
  • TB
  • Tuberculosis
  • XDR-TB

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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