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Denmark possesses an exceptional historical data collection on tuberculosis (TB) from 1876 to the present, providing a unique opportunity to assess TB epidemiology over 147 years in Denmark.


Our aim was to describe the TB disease burden in Denmark in relation to historical events, living conditions and health interventions during the past 147 years.


We performed a nationwide register-based ecological study including all persons with TB in Denmark from 1876 through 2022, correlating the TB incidence to social, economic and health indicators.


In Denmark, the overall TB incidence and mortality declined markedly over the past 147 years, only marginally influenced by specific TB interventions such as sanatoria, Bacillus Calmette-Guèrin (BCG) vaccination, mass screenings and antibiotics. Parallel to this decline, the country experienced improved living conditions, as illustrated by decreased infant mortality and increased life expectancy and wealth. In 1978, Denmark became a low-incidence country for TB with risk groups predominantly affected, and with a continuous change in demographics towards fewer Danish-born cases and relatively more migrant cases.


The decline over time in TB incidence and mortality in Denmark preceded specific TB interventions and can, first of all, be attributed to improved living conditions. TB has now become a rare disease in Denmark, predominantly occurring in particular risk groups. Future elimination of TB will require a combination of specific health interventions in these risk groups combined with a continued focus on improving socioeconomic status and living conditions.


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