May 15, 2019

Tuberculosis Makes A Dangerous Return to Paris

RFI reports on a study released by the French public health authorities, which shows an overall increase in the number of cases of tuberculosis since 2016, particularly in the north Parisian region of Seine-Saint-Denis. Does this mean the disease, often associated with the first half of the 20th century and earlier, is making a comeback?

“I wouldn’t say we should be worried,” smiles Giulia Manina, who heads a research group studying microbial individuality and infection with a focus on tuberculosis at the Pasteur Institute in Paris. But she adds that awareness is key and while Paris has a higher incidence due to “globalisation, migration fluxes . . . it is not the only reason for the re-emergence of tuberculosis”. Although considered a disease of the past, tuberculosis has never left us. The mainly pulmonary (or lung) disease can spread to other organs such as the brain or the bones. And because it is typically in the lungs, “it can spread easily” explains Manina. If a person has an active infection, as opposed to one that is still dormant, he or she can infect a lot of other people. “For instance, it is estimated that one person can infect up to ten others with a cough” adds the scientist, explaining the infectiousness of the disease, especially in high-density areas.