Although there are very few cases of tuberculosis in Belgium, this disease continues to be a significant public health problem that requires continual vigilance.
The problem of antibiotic resistance
The bacteria responsible for tuberculosis are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics. We have recently seen the emergence of:
- “multi-drug-resistant” tuberculosis (resistant to two major first-line antibiotics)
- “ultra-drug-resistant” tuberculosis (resistant to two major first-line and some second-line antibiotics)
In the case of multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis, it is necessary to resort to second-line treatments that are longer, more expensive and burdensome for the patient in terms of adverse reactions.
The mortality rate increases for antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis.
Coinfection with HIV
Tuberculosis and HIV accelerate each other’s progression. People living with HIV infected with the Koch bacillus multiply by 20 to 30 times the risk of developing active tuberculosis.