In 2023, 710 people in the Netherlands were diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB). This was 12 per cent more than in 2022, when there were 634. In 2023, 471 patients had pulmonary TB. Of these 417 patients, 213 had open TB – the most contagious type. This is evident from key figures published by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). 

Number of TB patients lower than before the coronavirus pandemic

The number of reports of TB in the Netherlands in 2023 was higher than in the years during the coronavirus pandemic (643 on average), but lower than in the years before the pandemic (777 on average). 

Due to the easing of coronavirus restrictions, TB can now spread more easily again. In addition, more people came to the Netherlands from countries where TB is common. Upon arriving in the Netherlands, these people undergo mandatory TB screening. These are two reasons why more people became ill in 2023.

Around 80 per cent of TB patients in the Netherlands in 2023 were born abroad. Of these, most were from Eritrea (89), followed by Somalia (60) and Morocco (37). 

What is tuberculosis?

Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by bacteria. This disease can be contagious, for instance when it is pulmonary – that is, bacteria are present in a patient’s lungs. TB can usually be treated effectively with antibiotics.

In 2023, 16 patients developed a severe form of antimicrobial resistance. Over the past 10 years, this number has been between 6 and 18 patients a year. Treating patients with drug-resistant TB is more difficult and takes longer. 

Early detection of TB

Early detection of TB infections makes it possible to treat people before they become ill. This, in turn, prevents the disease from spreading to other people.

In 2023, 1,419 TB infections were reported. Of these, 42 per cent were detected by screening people from countries where TB is common. Another 29 per cent were detected through source and contact tracing in connection with a patient.

RIVM will investigate the key figures for TB further. More information will be available in the surveillance report ‘Tuberculosis in the Netherlands’, which will be published at the end of this year. 

World TB Day

Sunday 24 March is World TB Day. The purpose of this day is to raise awareness about TB. This is because TB is one of the main causes of death through infectious disease worldwide.