Tuberculosis is among HIV/AIDS and Malaria one of the most common infectious diseases, which are spread across the globe. One third of the global population is supposed to be infected with tuberculosis. Among these 5-10% of the infected adults will need treatment. Infected people with a compromised immune system (i.e. HIV) are more likely to get it, the risk is approx. 10 times higher. According to the WHO more than 9 million people fall sick every year of tuberculosis and approx. 1,7 million die due to the consequences of the disease or the unavailability of treatment. Considering these facts tuberculosis is still the most deadly treatable bacterial disease, as well as the most common cause of death in HIV-infected people.
The eradication of tuberculosis is difficult, especially because of the high co-infection rate with HIV. Furthermore, the appearance of resistant strains of the bacterium pose a serious challenge. The development of drug resistance is especially dramatic in eastern-European states and countries of the former Soviet Union.
Approx. 5% of world’s cases are concentrated in Europe. Also there is a considerable gradient from the West to the East of Europe.
Whereas in Eastern Europe numbers are rising, the numbers are continuously decreasing in Western-Europe. The trend is also stabile in Germany. Cases were cut in half during the last ten years. There were 5020 new cases of active tuberculosis in 2007 in Germany (2006: 5402 cases).
Tuberculosis not only attacks the lungs, but also affects other organs such as the lymph nodes, bones, kidneys and the meninges.
Especially those with contact to people suffering from active lung tuberculosis are at high risk to infect themselves with tuberculosis or reactivate one. Other risk groups are patients with an earlier insufficiently treated tuberculosis, HIV-infected persons, or people who have a disease which compromises their immune system. Other risk factors are i.v. drug use, being homeless, poverty and migration.
The alarming rise in infections with tuberculosis in Russia/Eastern Europe is also problematic for Germany, since there is a close geographical proximity. Furthermore, rising numbers of resistant strains – especially in those regions- pose a challenge.
The ifi-Institute acquired great experience in diagnosing and treating tuberculosis over the years. After their stay in the hospital many patients continue their treatment with us.