Risks and Severity

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.

Sciensano contributes to the fight against tuberculosis by providing rapid diagnosis, by monitoring the antibiotic resistance of bacterial strains, by detecting epidemics, and developing new and more effective vaccines and treatments. The Belgian Official Medicines Control Laboratory (OMCL) of Sciensano, together with the European OMCL network, is responsible for the quality control of the tuberculosis vaccine prior to marketing.

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