Tuberculosis epidemiology and spread in Germany and Africa measured by means of latest molecular diagnostic methods. Projects are focussing multi-resistant tuberculosis strains.

To date, no comprehensive and reliable data on the spread of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis strains exist in Germany. With the current and future influx of refugees, these data are becoming more important than ever. Molecular epidemiological studies are to document the spread of TB and pinpoint new and potentially dangerous TB strains as early as possible. The latest DNA sequencing technology for analysing bacterial genomes is being implemented to this effect. This sequencing data will be combined with the standard epidemiological data collected by the Robert Koch Institute, and/or be transferred to the European Surveillance System (TESSy) database for communicable diseases. For a DZIF study, the epidemiological data and sputum samples required for the DNA sequencing will be collected at three sites: Hannover, Hamburg and Frankfurt. With this, the researchers hope to portray the spread of multidrug-resistant strains in Germany.

MTBC isolates can be classified into seven major lineages, globally. Efficient surveillance worldwide can help to prevent TB-outbreaks and transmission.

© Photo: Courtesy of: Niemann et al; Microbiol Spectrum 4(6):TBTB2-0022-2016

High disease rates in Africa

However, nowadays, over 95 percent of all TB cases are being registered in developing countries, with the highest rate of new infections being recorded in Sub-Saharan Africa. Therefore, many epidemiological studies are being conducted in Africa, together with the DZIF African Partner Institutions, and are being supported by further international networks such as CANTAM, PANACEA and TB Sequel.

Merging data and portraying all tuberculosis strains  

The researchers aim to obtain long-term molecular epidemiological data on tuberculosis bacteria. The database being established is to portray all confirmed tuberculosis strains as broadly as possible and enable quick comparisons with other databases. To date around 17000 TB strains have been sequenced at the DZIF.

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