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

Tuberculosis is treated with a combination of several antibiotics, but the treatments are particularly burdensome and last from six to 24 months. Antibiotic treatment should be monitored properly to avoid antibiotic resistance. When tuberculosis is treated properly, almost 100% of all cases are cured. 

In the case of multi-drug-resistant or ultra-drug-resistant tuberculosis, treatment options are more limited (second-line antibiotics) and the risk of mortality increases.

If untreated, tuberculosis can cure spontaneously in 25% of cases or progress to a chronic disease (25%). In 45% of cases, the illness results in the patient’s death.

In the case of latent tuberculosis, some people at risk, such as people living with HIV, may benefit from preventive antibiotic treatment that limits 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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