After many years of decrease, the number of tuberculosis patients in the Netherlands rose again in 2015 by 6 percent. In that year, 867 TB patients were reported in the Netherlands, compared with 814 in 2014. The causes are the increased influx of asylum seekers from countries where the incidence of TB is high, and a somewhat higher number of native Dutch people with tuberculosis in 2015. This is shown by the figures for 2015. RIVM reports these figures every year, in accordance with the WHO's aim to eliminate tuberculosis worldwide.
Tuberculosis is a notifiable infectious disease that is caused by a bacterium. Tuberculosis may be contagious, for example if it is in the lungs, but this is not necessarily so. The contagious form of tuberculosis (open tuberculosis) was seen in a quarter of patients in 2015. Nearly three quarters (72 percent) of the total number of tuberculosis patients in the Netherlands originate from areas where the incidence of this infectious disease is high, such as parts of Africa and Asia. In 2015, the largest group of patients originated from Eritrea and Ethiopia.
Result of the Treatment
As a treatment, the patients must take different medicines at the same time for a longer period of time (often for six months or more). Out of the TB patients in 2014 without any form of resistance against the medicines taken and in respect of whom the treatment results were reported, 88 percent completed the treatment with success. This is slightly less than in 2013 (91 percent). For 5 percent, the treatment results have not yet been reported. The treatment results for 2015 are not yet known.
Tuberculosis and HIV
An HIV infection increases the risk of tuberculosis, and tuberculosis is often the first sign of an HIV infection. It is therefore important to identify and treat an HIV infection at the earliest possible stage. With regard to a large number of TB patients, it is not known whether or not they are infected with HIV. The percentage of TB patients tested for HIV increased from 28 in 2008 to 60 in 2015, but it is still lower than the 80 percent advised by the WHO.
Tuberculosis in the Netherlands 1901-2015
Once every 5 years, the incidence of new tuberculosis infections in the Netherlands are charted on the so-called curve card. This curve map shows that the incidence of tuberculosis in the Netherlands has declined since the fifties of the last century, more than 1,000 per million inhabitants to 50 per million inhabitants. The mortality from tuberculosis has been recorded since the beginning of the last century and is greatly decreased, from approximately 2,000 deaths per million inhabitants in 1901 to approximately one death per million inhabitants in the year 2015.