BACKGROUND: Although Drug resistance tuberculosis is not a new phenomenon, Mali remains one of the "blank" countries without systematic data.
METHODS: Between 2006 and 2014, we enrolled pulmonary TB patients from local TB diagnostics centers and a university referral hospital in several observational cohort studies. These consecutive patients had first line drug susceptibility testing (DST) performed on their isolates. A subset of MDR was subsequently tested for second line drug resistance.
RESULTS: A total of 1186 mycobacterial cultures were performed on samples from 522 patients, including 1105 sputa and 81 blood samples, yielding one or more Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (Mtbc) positive cultures for 343 patients. Phenotypic DST was performed on 337 (98.3%) unique Mtbc isolates, of which 127 (37.7%) were resistant to at least one drug, including 75 (22.3%) with multidrug resistance (MDR). The overall prevalence of MDR-TB was 3.4% among new patients and 66.3% among retreatment patients. Second line DST was available for 38 (50.7%) of MDR patients and seven (18.4%) had resistance to either fluoroquinolones or second-line injectable drugs.
CONCLUSION: The drug resistance levels, including MDR, found in this study are relatively high, likely related to the selected referral population. While worrisome, the numbers remained stable over the study period. These findings prompt a nationwide drug resistance survey, as well as continuous surveillance of all retreatment patients, which will provide more accurate results on countrywide drug resistance rates and ensure that MDR patients access appropriate second line treatment.