Setting: The 245 health centres through which the National Tuberculosis Programme (NTP) is implemented in Korea and the TB Laboratory Network of the Korean National Tuberculosis Association.
Objective: To observe the trend of anti-tuberculosis drug resistance in Korea from 1994 to 2004 and possible related factors.
Design: All tuberculosis (TB) patients registered for treatment at the health centres for a given period were assessed.
Results: Of 2636 new smear-positive patients from the 2004 survey, 338 cases (12.8%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 11.5-14.1) showed resistance to any of the first-line drugs: 261 with isoniazid (INH) resistance (9.9%, 95%CI 8.8-11.0) and 71 with multidrug resistance (MDR) (2.7%, 95%CI 2.1-3.3). Compared with previous surveys, a statistically significant increase in MDR (P=0.00675), any drug resistance (P=0.03779), any INH resistance (P=0.00313) and any rifampicin resistance (P = 0.00176) has been observed among new cases since 1994. Any resistance to second-line drugs ranged from 0.1% (capreomycin) to 1.1% (para-aminosalicylic acid) among new cases and from 1.1% to 3.6% among retreatment cases. Resistance to kanamycin and ofloxacin was found in 1.4% and 2.6%, respectively, of new and previously treated MDR-TB cases.
Conclusion: A statistically significant increase in drug resistance was noticed among new cases.