Tuberculosis in elderly in the Czech Republic

Epidemiol Mikrobiol Imunol. 2019 Winter;68(4):184-190.


Introduction: The incidence of tuberculosis (TB) in the Czech Republic (CR) is decreasing since 1960s. (1965: 76.9; 1975: 60.4; 1985: 45.2; 1995: 17.7; 2005: 9.9; 2015: 4.9 per 100, 000 population). In 2017 men accounted for over than 70% of cases. People aged over 75 years are most frequently affected. Elderly patients tend to develop more of extrapulmonary and atypical manifestation of the disease, the diagnosis of TB can be difficult and consequently overlooked. Multimorbid seniors are suffering from chronic illnesses, malignancies and autoimmune diseases, which translate into higher degree of immunosuppression and add to the generally described process of immunosenescence. Furthermore, therapy of TB in the elderly is challenging because of the increased drug resistance and higher incidence of adverse drug reactions. This article reviews the epidemiology of TB in the CR, immunological aspects, clinical characteristics, diagnosis, management, prevention of TB infection and presents two clinical cases in hospitalized aging adults in the CR.

Case presentation: We present a case of a 79 year old female suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), who was repeatedly hospitalized for acute exacerbations of COPD and was consequently diagnosed with TB. Patient developed manifestation of treatment toxicity and drug interactions due to comorbidities and other medications. Secondly, we present a case of a 70 year old male, a lifelong smoker, who was initially admitted for collapsing. TB developed via the endogenic route from a Ghons complex in association with a slowly progressing bronchogenic carcinoma.

Conclusion: Diagnosis and management of TB in the elderly person can be challenging. Age-related factors increase the risk of TB reactivation as well as enhance susceptibility to TB infection. In elderly population we find accumulation of risk factors for developing TB (malnutrition, low socio economic status, smoking and alcoholism). The people most at risk among elderly include fragile institutionalized seniors whose incidence of TB is 2-3 times higher than those living at home. Because the number of seniors is growing and the incidence of TB in this subpopulation is increasing, detailed knowledge of the epidemiological features of TB in this group is needed to optimize healthcare services.

Keywords: Czech Republic; elderly; epidemiology; immunity; tuberculosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Czech Republic / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Risk Factors
  • Tuberculosis* / epidemiology