Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by a group of bacteria species called the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex. Tuberculosis is transmitted from person to person, for example, when people expel bacteria by coughing.
Tuberculosis remains an important cause of suffering in the EU/EEA, with around 55 000 cases reported annually to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). Most EU/EEA countries are low-incidence countries where tuberculosis predominantly affects vulnerable populations, such as migrants, prison inmates or people co-infected with HIV. However, country-specific notification rates differ considerably: from only a few cases in some countries to thousands of cases in others. In most EU/EEA and accession countries, the notification rates are decreasing.
A public health concern are the antibiotics-resistant strains of tuberculosis (called multi-drug resistant TB or MDR-TB), which are hard to treat and cure. Antimicrobial resistance is a very serious global challenge affecting both humans and animals. While in the EU/EEA the proportion of MDR-TB cases is low, in some EU Member States they reach up to one quarter of all cases, making MDR-TB and antimicrobial resistance a serious cause for concern and a public health security threat.