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Decreasing trend of drug-resistant TB in Italy

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BACKGROUND: TB caused by rifampicin-resistant (RR) and multidrug-resistant (MDR) Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains is a major concern to TB control globally. However, in the European Union, MDR-TB notifications among all bacteriologically confirmed TB cases with available drug susceptibility testing (DST) results decreased over the last years.

METHODS: We conducted a retrospective analysis on DST results reported from 2011 to 2020 by 46 laboratories in 19 out of 20 regions in Italy in order to evaluate resistance trends to first- and second-line drugs in MDR/RR-TB strains isolated from Italian-born persons (IBPs) and foreign-born persons (FBPs).

RESULTS: Of 23,972 M. tuberculosis strains examined (15,519 from FBPs and 8,453 from IBPs), MDR-TB decreased from 3.2% in 2011 to 2.2% in 2020. High MDR/RR-TB rates occurred mostly in FBPs from former Soviet Union countries. In 2017, a MDR/RR-TB increase was detected in FBPs from sub-Saharan Africa. MDR-TB strains showed consistent increase in resistance to pyrazinamide (PZA), slight increase in resistance to fluoroquinolones and a decrease in resistance to other drugs.

CONCLUSION: While MDR/RR-TB cases slightly decreased, a worrisome increase of resistance to PZA and fluoroquinolones among MDR/RR-TB patients was seen. This implies that a fast and efficient diagnosis aligned with therapy is crucial for TB control.

Keywords: fluoroquinolones; former Soviet Union; migrants; pyrazinamide; sub-Saharan Africa

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Infectious Diseases, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy 2: Emerging Bacterial Pathogens Unit, IRCCS San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Milan, Italy

Publication date: August 1, 2022

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