Infection control, genetic assessment of drug resistance and drug susceptibility testing in the current management of multidrug/extensively-resistant tuberculosis (M/XDR-TB) in Europe: A tuberculosis network European Trialsgroup (TBNET) study

Respir Med. 2017 Nov;132:68-75. doi: 10.1016/j.rmed.2017.09.007. Epub 2017 Sep 23.


Aim: Europe has the highest documented caseload and greatest increase in multidrug and extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (M/XDR-TB) of all World Health Organization (WHO) regions. This survey examines how recommendations for M/XDR-TB management are being implemented.

Methods: TBNET is a pan-European clinical research collaboration for tuberculosis. An email survey of TBNET members collected data in relation to infection control, access to molecular tests and basic microbiology with drug sensitivity testing.

Results: 68/105 responses gave valid information and were from countries within the WHO European Region. Inpatient beds matched demand, but single rooms with negative pressure were only available in low incidence countries; ultraviolet decontamination was used in 5 sites, all with >10 patients with M/XDR-TB per year. Molecular tests for mutations associated with rifampicin resistance were widely available (88%), even in lower income and especially in high incidence countries. Molecular tests for other first line and second line drugs were less accessible (76 and 52% respectively). A third of physicians considered that drug susceptibility results were delayed by > 2 months.

Conclusion: Infection control for inpatients with M/XDR-TB remains a problem in high incidence countries. Rifampicin resistance is readily detected, but tests to plan regimens tailored to the drug susceptibilities of the strain of Mycobacterium tuberculosis are significantly delayed, allowing for further drug resistance to develop.

Keywords: Drug-resistance; Europe; Infection control; PCR; Tuberculosis.

MeSH terms

  • Antitubercular Agents / therapeutic use
  • Decontamination / methods
  • Developing Countries
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial / genetics
  • Europe
  • Extensively Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis / diagnosis*
  • Extensively Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Infection Control / methods*
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / genetics
  • Patient Isolation / methods
  • Rifampin / therapeutic use
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tuberculosis, Multidrug-Resistant / diagnosis
  • Tuberculosis, Multidrug-Resistant / drug therapy
  • Ultraviolet Rays


  • Antitubercular Agents
  • Rifampin