Sunday. 02.10.2022

174 cases of tuberculosis diagnosed in Finland in 2020

In Finland, a new typical TB patient is a young immigrant from an area where TB is a common disease, according to THL.

Photo: Pixabay.
Photo: Pixabay.

On the occasion of World Tuberculosis Day (24 March), the Finnish health authorities reported that 174 cases of TB were diagnosed in Finland in 2020.

According to the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL, in its Finnish acronym), the number of tuberculosis diagnoses decreased 23% from the previous year.

"The coronavirus pandemic has had an impact on the prevalence of many respiratory infectious diseases," THL emphasized.

In Finland, a typical tuberculosis patient is an older person born in Finland who has been infected in their youth, or a young immigrant from an area where tuberculosis is a common disease, THL explained in a press release.

Last year, a case of pulmonary tuberculosis was found in a primary school in the city Vantaa.

‘Particularly few cases were diagnosed during the state of emergency in the spring when many health care providers were closed down. The decrease in contacts and immigration may also have affected the number of cases. It is very important that tuberculosis diagnostics also work during emergency conditions,’ says Hanna Soini, Senior Specialist at THL.

Millions of people fall ill every year 

Despite the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, tuberculosis remains one of the most common infectious diseases in the world.

According to an estimate by the World Health Organisation (WHO), a total of 10 million people were infected with tuberculosis in 2019 and 1.4 million died from it. The highest number of cases were diagnosed in Asia and Africa. 

Tuberculosis is transmitted via airborne transmission, but an infection usually requires long or repeated exposure. The disease can also remain latent and only become active decades after the infection.

The most common form of tuberculosis is pulmonary tuberculosis, but the disease may also be located elsewhere in the body. Typical symptoms of tuberculosis include prolonged cough, sputum, fever and weight loss. 

Suffering from tuberculosis and the treatment for the illness change a person’s life in many ways, by raising concerns, questions and the need for peer support. In particular, patients are often worried about the stigma associated with tuberculosis and the isolation at the start of the treatment, and feeling anxious about infecting their loved-ones.

174 cases of tuberculosis diagnosed in Finland in 2020