• Characteristics of drug-resistant tuberculosis in Abkhazia (Georgia), a high-prevalence area in Eastern Europe

      Pardini, M; Niemann, S; Varaine, F; Iona, E; Meacci, F; Orrù, G; Yesilkaya, H; Jarosz, T; Andrew, P; Barer, M; et al. (2009-06-18)
      Although multidrug-resistant (MDR) tuberculosis (TB) is a major public health problem in Eastern Europe, the factors contributing to emergence, spread and containment of MDR-TB are not well defined. Here, we analysed the characteristics of drug-resistant TB in a cross-sectional study in Abkhazia (Georgia) between 2003 and 2005, where standard short-course chemotherapy is supplemented with individualized drug-resistance therapy. Drug susceptibility testing (DST) and molecular typing were carried out for Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex strains from consecutive smear-positive TB patients. Out of 366 patients, 60.4% were resistant to any first-line drugs and 21% had MDR-TB. Overall, 25% of all strains belong to the Beijing genotype, which was found to be strongly associated with the risk of MDR-TB (OR 25.9, 95% CI 10.2-66.0) and transmission (OR 2.8, 95% CI 1.6-5.0). One dominant MDR Beijing clone represents 23% of all MDR-TB cases. The level of MDR-TB did not decline during the study period, coinciding with increasing levels of MDR Beijing strains among previously treated cases. Standard chemotherapy plus individualized drug-resistance therapy, guided by conventional DST, might be not sufficient to control MDR-TB in Eastern Europe in light of the spread of "highly transmissible" MDR Beijing strains circulating in the community.