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More than a dozen ‘TB deaths’ recorded in 2018

The number of cases of tuberculosis (TB) decreased marginally in 2018 compared to figures for 2017, according to a new report from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC).

The Annual Epidemiological Report — National TB Surveillance in Ireland 2018 shows that 315 TB cases were notified last year, with the highest number of cases (157) reported in HSE East. In 2017, 321 cases were reported.

Some 14 TB deaths were reported during this period. The cause of death was reported as due to TB in four cases, not due to TB in four cases, and “awaiting a coroner’s report” in one case.

The cause of death for the remaining five cases was either “pending or unknown”.

A total of eight TB outbreaks occurred in 2018 and two cases of TB meningitis were reported. Of the 315 cases, five were diagnosed post-mortem.

The eight outbreaks comprised 36 cases, with two outbreaks occurring in residential institutions, one occurring in a community setting and another in a hospital.

One outbreak took place “across multiple locations”, while two family outbreaks occurred in private houses and another took place within an extended family.

The report reveals that HIV status was reported in 131 (41.6 per cent) of TB cases.

“Of these 131 TB cases, 13 (9.9 per cent) tested positive for HIV and 118 (90.1 per cent) tested negative for HIV,” the report states.

Of the 315 cases, 219 culture-positive cases were reported. Of the 219 cases, 189 had drug sensitivity details completed.

“Resistance was reported in 18 cases (8.2 per cent of cases with drug sensitivity data reported and 5.7 per cent of total cases reported). Of the 18 resistant cases, five were MDR-TB [multi-drug resistant] and two were rifampicin mono-resistant,” according to the report findings. 

More cases were reported in males (186) than in females (128) last year.

“Age-specific incidence rates (ASIRs) were highest in those aged 65 years and older (11.0) and in the 25-34 year age group (9.7).”

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