Tuberculosis remained stable in Denmark in 2018

The number of notified tuberculosis (TB) cases remained in line with the level recorded in 2017. So far, it seems that the level will also remain unchanged in 2019, according to new figures from Statens Serum Institut (SSI).

The number of tuberculosis cases in Denmark currently remains stable. That is what the latest figures from the SSI show.

In 2018, Denmark saw a total of 291 notified cases of tuberculosis (TB). That is roughly in line with the figure recorded in 2017, when 279 cases were notified. And the trend seems to continue this year, as a total of 174 cases have currently been notified (as per 11 September 2019).

In all, 77 of the 291 TB cases (26%) occurred among persons of Danish origin, whereas 214 cases occurred among persons of non-Danish origin (immigrants or descendants of immigrants).

For more information, please see EPI-NEWS.

For more information, please see the 2018 annual TB report.

Considerable decline needed to meet WHO objectives

Considering the recent past, the annual number of TB cases has decreased steadily by an average 2.5% since 2000.

This rate, however, is not sufficient to meet the WHO objective of reducing the number of TB cases by 90% in the 2015-2035-period.

“The WHO objective requires an average 4.5% annual decline in the number of TB cases in Denmark in the period. We are therefore running behind with respect to the objective”, notes Peter Henrik Andersen from the SSI. He continues:

“It is encouraging, however, that the median age of persons of Danish origin with TB has followed an increasing trend in the past 10-11 years. This shows that, in the long term, we will be able to eliminate the condition in this group”, he adds.

Large cases of TB contact tracing in Aalborg and Haslev

The most recent years have also brought two major cases of TB contact tracing.

At Aalborg University Hospital (AaUH), a total of 871 patients and employees were tested for TB after an AaUH employee had been diagnosed with infectious pulmonary tuberculosis in December. In all, 41 persons (approx 5%) had latent TB. Even so, the active disease had not presented in any of the people infected.

In the autumn of 2018, a 17-year-old pupil of Haslev School was also diagnosed with infectious pulmonary TB. In this connection, a total of 125 children and adults were tested for TB. A total of 21 (17%) had latent TB, whereas four students and one teacher had active TB.

“The percentage share of infected people was far higher in Haslev than in Aalborg. One explanation for this may be that the Haslev incident occurred in a school environment with closer and more sustained contact between pupils than was the case for the contact between employees and outpatients at the hospital”, says Peter Henrik Andersen.

Continued need for awareness about multi-drug-resistant TB

Finally, the SSI’s figures show that 2018 brought four cases of multi-resistant TB (MDR-TB). The four cases formed part of the same Danish chain of infection and were connected to a TB case from 2010.

“Ten yeas ago, we rarely saw MDR-TB in Denmark, and the MDR-TB cases we did record were sporadic. It causes concern that we now see the spreading of multi-resistant TB strains in Denmark, even though the extent of this is limited. Therefore, it is important that we stay aware of this issue”, notes Head of Department, Troels Lillebæk.