Screening of health-care workers for latent tuberculosis infection in a Tertiary Care Hospital.

Research paper by Anand Bimari AB Janagond, Vithiya V Ganesan, G S GS Vijay Kumar, Arunagiri A Ramesh, Prem P Anand, M M Mariappan

Indexed on: 05 Aug '17Published on: 05 Aug '17Published in: International Journal of Mycobacteriology


Health-care workers (HCWs) are at increased risk of acquiring tuberculosis (TB) than the general population. While national-level data on the burden of TB in general population is available from reliable sources, nationally representative data on latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) burden in HCWs in the high burden countries is lacking.A prospective study was carried out to assess the risk of TB infection among HCWs who directly engage in medical duties. HCWs were recruited between January 2014 and December 2015. A structured questionnaire was used for risk assessment of TB infection among HCWs, including sociodemographic characteristics (e.g., age, gender, period of professional work, and employed position), knowledge of TB prevention and control, and history of professional work. A single-step tuberculin skin test (TST) using 5 international units (IU; 0.1 ml) of tuberculin (purified protein derivative from Mycobacterium bovis Bacillus Calmette-Guérin [BCG]). TB infection was determined using a TST induration ≥10 mm as a cutoff point for TST positivity. TST-positive participants were further subjected to detailed clinical evaluation and chest radiography to rule out active TB. The associations between TB infection and the sociodemographic characteristics, duration of possible exposure to TB while on medical duties, BCG vaccination, and knowledge about TB were estimated using Chi-square test. A two-sided P < 0.05 indicated statistical significance.A total of 206 eligible HCWs signed the informed consent and completed the questionnaires between January 2014 and December 2015. The age of the participants ranged from 18 to 71 years, with a mean age of 27.13 years. TST induration size (mean 6.37 mm) the TST results suggested that 36.8% (76/206) were infected with TB using a TST induration ≥10 mm as a cut-off point. All 76 TST-positive HCWs showed no evidence of active TB in clinical evaluation and chest radiography. However, during the study, two HCWs developed pulmonary TB (both TST baseline test negative). Statistical analysis suggested that age, duration of employment as a health-care professional, literacy status, and working in medical wards/OP/Intensive Care Unit were significantly associated with TB infection.Many studies propose serial tests of LTBI as effective occupational protection strategies. However, practically, it is not feasible because it has to be done at frequent intervals, but how frequently to be done is not clear. Another concern is even if found to have LTBI, there are no clear consensus guidelines about the treatment in high prevalence settings. The prevalence of LTBI is so high in countries like India that affected HCWs could not be exempted from working in high-risk areas. The depth of knowledge of TB prevention and control among HCWs should be improved by regular infection control training.