Researchers estimated that, globally, three in every 1,000 people carry latent multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, or MDR-TB, with the prevalence being 10 times higher among children younger than 15 years of age, according to a study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.
“Tuberculosis is the infectious disease responsible for the most deaths worldwide. The complex natural history of Mycobacterium tuberculosis means that, for ultimate disease control, people with latent infections need to be targeted,” Gwenan M. Knight, PhD, assistant professor in the department of infectious disease epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and colleagues wrote. “As much as 23% of the world’s population could have latent tuberculosis infection, and, even if transmission stopped in 2014, reactivation disease would overwhelm the 2035 End TB targets.”
According to the study, Knight and colleagues used WHO data to create a model to estimate national trends in the proportion of new TB cases caused by MDR strains.
The findings showed that, in 2014, 19.1 million people were latently infected with MDR-TB, resulting in a global prevalence of .3%, Knight and colleagues reported. MDR strains accounted for 1.2% of the total latent TB burden and 2.9% of the burden among children younger than 15 years of age. The researchers estimated that 1.9 million people globally were at high risk for active MDR-TB in 2015.
Knight and colleagues warned that the proportion of latent TB caused by MDR strains will increase if current trends continue, posing “a serious challenge” for the management of latent TB.
“Targeting latent tuberculosis infection is essential for tuberculosis elimination, but standard preventive treatment regimens are probably ineffective against latent MDR strains,” they wrote. “The estimates for the proportion of latent tuberculosis infections caused by MDR strains, and associated variations by setting and age we have provided should help to inform clinical decision-making about regional preventive treatment regimens for latent MDR tuberculosis in children younger than 15 years.”– by Caitlyn Stulpin
Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.