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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2013 May;57(5):2161-6. doi: 10.1128/AAC.02403-12. Epub 2013 Mar 4.

Epidemiology of antituberculosis drug resistance in Saudi Arabia: findings of the first national survey.

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Mycobacteriology Research Section, Department of Infection and Immunity, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.


The real magnitude of antituberculosis (anti-TB) drug resistance in Saudi Arabia is still unknown because the available data are based on retrospective laboratory studies that were limited to hospitals or cities. A representative national survey was therefore conducted to investigate the levels and patterns of anti-TB drug resistance and explore risk factors. Between August 2009 and July 2010, all culture-positive TB patients diagnosed in any of the tuberculosis reference laboratories of the country were enrolled. Isolates obtained from each patient were tested for susceptibility to first-line anti-TB drugs by the automated Bactec MGIT 960 method. Of the 2,235 patients enrolled, 75 cases (3.4%) were lost due to culture contamination and 256 (11.5%) yielded nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM). Finally, 1,904 patients (85.2% of those enrolled) had available drug susceptibility testing results. Monoresistance to streptomycin (8.1%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 7.2 to 9.1), isoniazid (5.4%; 95% CI, 4.7 to 6.2), rifampin (1%; 95% CI, 0.7 to 1.3) and ethambutol (0.8%; 95% CI, 0.5 to 1.2) were observed. Multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) was found in 1.8% (95% CI, 1.4 to 2.4) and 15.9% (95% CI, 15.4 to 16.5) of new and previously treated TB cases, respectively. A treatment history of active TB, being foreign-born, having pulmonary TB, and living in the Western part of the country were the strongest independent predictors of MDR-TB. Results from the first representative national anti-TB drug resistance survey in Saudi Arabia suggest that the proportion of MDR-TB is relatively low, though there is a higher primary drug resistance. A strengthened continuous surveillance system to monitor trends over time and second-line anti-TB drug resistance as well as implementation of innovative control measures, particularly among immigrants, is warranted.

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