Epidemiology of childhood tuberculosis in Switzerland between 1996 and 2011

Eur J Pediatr. 2014 Apr;173(4):457-62. doi: 10.1007/s00431-013-2196-z. Epub 2013 Nov 8.


Approximately 9 million cases of tuberculosis (TB) are reported annually and half a million occur in children <15 years of age. Globally, TB notifications in children have been neglected for decades although childhood TB may represent a sentinel for ongoing transmission. Data included in this study were collected from the TB database of the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health, which includes culture-confirmed TB and/or cases treated with ≥3 anti-mycobacterial drugs. Data from all children <15 years of age reported between 1996 and 2011 were analyzed. A total of 320 cases of TB (166 cultures confirmed, 5 confirmed by nucleic acid amplification, 149 other than definite cases) were reported with an overall incidence rate of 1.6 per 100,000 children (range 1.2-2.2). A total of 154 (48 %) children were younger than 5 years of age and 141 (44 %) were born in Switzerland. Children below 5 years of age were more likely to be Swiss-born compared to children aged 10 to 14 years (74 % versus 26 %). When analyzing the country of origin, only 55 children (17 %) were of Swiss origin. Of all children with foreign origin, 117 (47 %) were from a country within the WHO European Region. In 288 (90 %) of all notified cases, the site of disease was the lung. Mycobacterial culture was positive in 166 cases (51.9 %) with 1.8 % multi-drug-resistance. The overall incidence of childhood TB disease reported in Switzerland remained stable over a 16-year period with a remarkable high rate of very young patients of foreign origin. Only half of the reported cases were culture confirmed, highlighting the need for better diagnostic tests in childhood TB.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Emigrants and Immigrants
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / isolation & purification
  • Switzerland / epidemiology
  • Tuberculosis / epidemiology*
  • Tuberculosis / microbiology