Surge in Tuberculosis Cases in Czech Republic, Half of the Patients are Foreigners

The Czech Republic has seen a significant rise in cases of Tuberculosis, with half of the patients being foreigners. Doctors are increasingly coming across patients with Tuberculosis, in addition to other diseases like pertussis and diphtheria. Last year, six dozen more patients were reported compared to the previous year, raising alarm due to the unresponsive nature of the disease to standard treatment.

“Every second case of Tuberculosis reported in the Czech Republic currently is from a foreigner. In Prague, it’s even sixty percent of cases,” Jiří Wallenfels from the National Tuberculosis Surveillance Unit at Bulovka Hospital. Last year, of the 447 reported patients, 220 were foreigners. Preliminary data suggests similar numbers to those reported six years ago, with Ukrainians being the most prevalent among foreigners. There are also cases in Slovakia, Vietnam, and even Romania.

Given the ongoing war in Ukraine, the rise in patients is unsurprising. It is well known that care for Tuberculosis patients east of the Czech Republic does not match the standard of care provided in the country. The risk of the disease spreading rapidly in society is minimal. The President of the Czech Pneumological and Phthiseological Society, Vladimír Koblížek, emphasized that the problem lies in long-term contact with an infected person.

The prevalence of Tuberculosis is notably higher among men, primarily due to its nature as a social disease. “Among men, there is a higher representation of homeless people, alcoholics, and prisoners than among women. These groups have a higher incidence of Tuberculosis,” Wallenfels told Novinky and Právo.

An essential shift in treatment occurred in January. The condition that every patient must be immediately isolated in the hospital was abolished. Patients whose condition allows it and who are sufficiently reliable in taking their medication and informing their doctors about it can be isolated at home and treated there. Doctors will provide ongoing information to them remotely via mobile or computer.