"The emergence of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis continues to be a challenge for the public health system," says Dr. Bernhard Benka, head of AGES' public health business area, at a symposium to mark World Tuberculosis Day on March 24. The symposium is being organized by AGES together with the Austrian Tuberculosis Association - Heilanstalt Alland and the Medical University of Vienna.
According to the World Health Organization, the most obvious impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the global tuberculosis situation has been a dramatic drop in reported case numbers in 2020, which may mean that the number of people with undiagnosed and consequently untreated tuberculosis has increased. "We will probably only see the possible effects at a later stage due to the time lag between infection and the onset of the disease," says Univ.-Prof. Dr. Meinhard Kneussl, President of the Austrian Tuberculosis Association - Heilanstalt Alland.
Age group 15 to 24 years most frequently affected
In 2021, 396 cases of tuberculosis were registered in Austria, corresponding to an incidence of 4.43/100,000 inhabitants. 129 persons (32.6%) with country of birth Austria, 108 cases (27.3%) with country of birth outside Austria in WHO Europe region, 159 cases (40.2%) with country of birth outside WHO Europe region. Among the 396 cases, 8 cases of multidrug-resistant (MDR) tuberculosis and one case of extremely drug-resistant (XDR) tuberculosis were detected. The highest incidence was recorded in the age group 15-24 years (6.2/100,000). In this age group, individuals from countries with high incidence of tuberculosis manifest tuberculosis, most of which was acquired in childhood.