RKI President: High attention to tuberculosis still important!
Tuberculosis is an extremely serious disease that can be fatal if left untreated. The annual report of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) makes it clear that the number of new cases in 2015 remained at a relatively high level throughout Germany. On the occasion of the World Tuberculosis Day on March 24, the RKI provides information in the current Epidemiological Bulletin about the challenges of modern tuberculosis control
"The number of cases of tuberculosis in Germany is largely unchanged in 2016 compared to 2015, but at a similarly high level as last time about ten years ago," said the RKI. In 2015, a total of 5,852 diseases were reported to the RKI; in the previous year there were 5,915 diseases. Modern tuberculosis control faces enormous challenges here and a high level of awareness of this disease is still important, reports the President of the Robert Koch Institute, Lothar H. Wieler.
Monitor the genetic material of the pathogen continuously
In the Epidemiological Bulletin, the RKI scientists report, among other things, on the requirements and prospects for integrating “genome sequence data” of the pathogens into tuberculosis monitoring. Because new approaches such as a systematic molecular analysis of the genetic material of the pathogens will be indispensable for the continuous monitoring of infectious diseases in the future, said the RKI President Wieler. According to the experts, the pathogen genome data can also provide important information for the epidemiological elucidation of the transmission process in tuberculosis and thus contribute to the interruption of the transmission process.
Tuberculosis can still be treated well to this day
According to the RKI, tuberculosis is generally relatively easy to treat and cure. The corresponding treatment guidelines are presented by the German Central Committee to Combat Tuberculosis in the Epidemiological Bulletin. Separate guidelines for children and adolescents should also be available shortly. Proper therapy always requires determination of the resistance profile of the bacteria. For this purpose, “comprehensive resistance tests are carried out in the National Reference Center for Mycobacteria in the Research Center Borstel and in special laboratories,” reports the RKI.
Multi-resistant pathogens endanger therapy options
The tuberculosis pathogens have increasingly developed resistance to antibiotics in the past few years, which could significantly limit the good therapeutic options in the future. According to the RKI Annual Report 2015, the proportion of multi-resistant strains in Germany has increased slightly compared to 2014, to 3.3 percent recently. The multi-resistant pathogens are most commonly found in patients who were born in the successor states of the former Soviet Union, reports the RKI. In this group, one in four tuberculosis patients was found to be multi-resistant.
Active search for tuberculosis infections required
According to the RKI. Experts, an active case search is "essential to find cases of illness and new infections and to avoid spreading them." Therefore, the health authorities also determine every close contact person of patients with infectious pulmonary tuberculosis and, if necessary, arrange a further examination or preventive therapies . In addition, according to the RKI, it is legally required to examine certain groups of the population, including asylum seekers, when they are admitted to a community facility. An important aspect of tuberculosis control is therefore the early detection of the disease. "Doctors should always consider tuberculosis in people with the corresponding symptoms or special risks for a disease," said the RKI. The risk groups include, for example, homeless people or people from regions with a high tuberculosis rate. (fp)