“Tuberculosis on the rise, it’s scary again”

Andreoni: “Even the tubercle bacillus, which we have known for hundreds of years, is now becoming multiresistant”

“Tuberculosis is starting to scare again, due to drug-resistant strains. It’s bad to say because we’ve had too much fear and we wouldn’t want to hear about it anymore. But the resistant mycobacteria are starting to really worry us”. So at Adnkronos Salute Massimo Andreoni, scientific director of the Italian Society of Infectious and Tropical Diseases (Simit), today in Rome, on the sidelines of the meeting ‘We stand with public health: a call to action for infectious disease’, organized together with the Society of general medicine and primary care (Simg), on the eve of World Tuberculosis Day.

“We’re talking about a recovering disease,” continues Andreoni. “And this is somewhat inevitable because globalization has so many positive but also many negative aspects. It also allows germs to circulate better. The problem is that even the tubercle bacillus, which we have known for hundreds of years, is now becoming multiresistant. They exist. cases in which the treatment becomes very complicated because we have to use 7 or 8 drugs and sometimes we are unable to defeat the mycobacterium. If these cases become predominant, the problem becomes very serious”.

CASES IN THE WORLD – Tuberculosis remains one of the leading killer infections in the world, with 1.6 million deaths and millions of infections every year globally, and a huge impact on families and communities. Last year, fueled by the Covid-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization reported for the first time in nearly two decades a surge in TB and drug-resistant TB cases, along with an increase in deaths.

Italy is in pole position towards the goal of eliminating tuberculosis by 2030, relaunched by the World Health Organization on the eve of World TB Day which is celebrated on 24 March. “Italy, with about 3,000 new cases a year, is a country defined as low-endemic for tuberculosis (like most Western European countries) and is one of the candidate countries to win this battle”, says Daniela Maria Cirillo, president of the European Society of Mycobacteriology (Esm) and coordinator for the Italian Clinical Microbiologists Association (Amcli) of the working group on mycobacteria. But “for this to happen – warns the expert, head of the Emerging Pathogens Unit of the Irccs San Raffaele hospital in Milan – it is necessary to become aware that the disease still exists, that it affects the most fragile and which must be recognized promptly and treated appropriately to avoid new infections”.