Although there are very few cases of tuberculosis in Belgium, this disease continues to be a significant public health problem that requires continual vigilance.

A person can be infected with the bacterium responsible for tuberculosis without necessarily developing symptoms of the disease and without being contagious. This is called “latent” or “asymptomatic” tuberculosis.

When tuberculosis is accompanied by symptoms, it is known as “active” or “symptomatic” tuberculosis».
Pulmonary tuberculosis manifests itself through coughing (sometimes bloody), chest pain, weight loss, night sweats and fever, among other things.

Symptoms can remain moderate for many months. This may cause the patient to postpone consulting a doctor and may encourage transmission of the bacterium to others.

It is important to note that tuberculosis can infect organs other than the lungs, and symptoms may vary depending on the affected organ. This is known as “extra-pulmonary 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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