On 22 December 2016, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control published information regarding the Agency’s latest risk assessement report. According to this report, seven cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR TB) in asylum seekers has been detected in Switzerland between February and August 2016. The seven cases of MDR TB were diagnosed among 15–19 year-olds from Somalia, Eritrea and Ethiopia. The asylum seekers had filed for asylum at different points in time between December 2015 and June 2016.
In addition, the same genetic information with the same drug resistance profile was detected in nine additional MDR TB cases in Austria, Germany and Sweden.One of the patients was diagnosed four months after contact with one of the other cases. So far, no other epidemiological link has been identified.
Moreover, as of 19 December, Germany reported six cases with the same genetic clone in asylum seekers from Somalia. Two cases of MDR TB with the same resistance profile were detected in Austria. One of which showed the same drug susceptibility pattern as the cases detected in Switzerland; for the second, drug susceptibility testing is currently on-going. The same pattern was identified in Sweden in a patient from Somalia.
The available information from Switzerland demonstrates that there is a possible recent transmission. The patients could have been infected either in their country of origin or while passing through a transit country along their migration route to the country of destination. Since the numbers of transmission and infection are so low, there is a limited risk that this outbreak could spread wider. However, more cases may occur in association with this cluster.
According to ECDC, Tuberculosis in a foreign-born population does not have a significant influence on TB in the native population in the EU/EEA, however there is still a possibility of transmission for both migrants and the native population.
The full risk assessment is available here.