The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) is warning that a cluster involving 16 cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR TB) in asylum seekers has been detected in Europe.
The first seven cases were identified in Switzerland between February and August 2016, with a strain that was resistant to rifampicin, isoniazid, ethambutol, pyrazinamide and capreomycin, but fully sensitive to amikacin and fluoroquinolones. Whole genome sequencing (WGS) results suggest the strains belong to a single molecular cluster.
Germany reported six cases of the same genetic clone in asylum seekers while two cases with the same resistance profile were detected in Austria. Drug susceptibility testing in the second case is ongoing. One case has been reported in Sweden with the same WGS pattern.
The ECDC said that while the limited number of cases detected so far suggests that there is only a limited risk of this outbreak becoming a widespread event, more cases may occur in association with the cluster.
“Improving understanding of this outbreak – including identifying any other potential cases and contacts – will allow targeted prevention and control measures,” the agency stated.