Epidemiology of tuberculosis

Nurse in pink uniform giving an injection against tuberculosis to a girlGlobal burden of tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by the bacillus Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which primarily typically affects the lungs (so-called pulmonary TB) but may also involve other organs (extrapulmonary TB), especially in immunocompromised individuals (those who have inborn or acquired immunodeficiency, for example, due to HIV). The disease has existed for centuries and still remains one of the biggest issues in public health globally.

Nowadays, approximately 1.7 million of deaths happen in the world due to TB making it the 9th in the list of most common death causes and the 2nd most common deadly infectious disease. According to the WHO as of 2016 about 10.4 million new TB cases were reported. About 2/3 of the reported cases were observed in India, Indonesia, China, Philippines, Pakistan, Nigeria, and South Africa. Almost 490000 of new TB cases were caused by the multidrug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis, with the highest incidence in India, China, and the Russian Federation.


According to the WHO as of 2015 every day, approximately 900 people develop tuberculosis (TB). That year about 32000 deaths in the European region were related to tuberculosis and its complications and 323000 new cases of the disease were reported among which 43000 were caused by the multidrug-resistant TB. In 2016 there were approximately 290000 new TB cases in Europe and about 26000 deaths from TB.

  • TB epidemic regions

Currently, 18 countries in Eastern Europe are struggling with TB epidemic: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, the Republic of Moldova, Romania, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. These countries are bearing about 85% of the world’s TB burden and almost 99% of the multidrug-resistant TB happen here.

As of 2015 in the listed countries the incidence of TB reached 51-150 cases of TB per 100000 population with even higher rates in Moldova – more than 150 cases of TB per 100000 population.

  • TB in non-epidemic countries

In other countries in the European region, TB incidence is about 0-50 cases per 100000 population.


CDC reports that as of 2014 in the USA were observed 9421 TB cases with an incidence of  3 cases per 100000 population and 555 deaths from TB occurred due to the infection in 2013.

In the American region the highest rates of TB are observed in Haiti (230 cases per 100000), Suriname (145 per 100000) and Bolivia (135 per 100000).


Countries out of 20 with the highest tuberculosis rates are located in the African region. TB incidence in Africa varies from 25 cases of TB per 100000 population up to more than 300 cases in the sub-Saharan part of the region.

Asia and the Pacific region

About 45% of new TB cases occur in Asia. Namely, India has one of the highest TB incidence rates in the world – from 109 up to 345 per 100000 population. More than 2.5 million people in India are ill making about 26% of all TB cases in the world. TB incidence in Indonesia is 391 per 100000 population. TB incidence in China makes 64 TB cases per 100000 population.

The highest TB case notification rate of 398 cases per 100000 population was reported in Kiribati, 309 – in Papua New Guinea and 283 – in the Marshall Islands. 


TB incidence in Australia has a rate of 5.7 per 100000 population.

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