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Free Content Extra-pulmonary tuberculosis: a high frequency in the absence of HIV infection

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Setting: A tuberculosis centre for the diagnosis, management and control of all tuberculosis in a region in Western Canada with a population of approximately 1.2 million.

Objective: To measure the proportion of cases of extra-pulmonary tuberculosis in relation to country of birth, age and gender of the subject.

Design: A prospective study of all patients with tuberculosis diagnosed during a five-year period, 1990–1994. Information relating to age, country of birth and details relating to their tuberculosis were all gathered and stored on a computerised tuberculosis register.

Results: A total of 351 patients with tuberculosis were diagnosed during the five-year period. Extra-pulmonary tuberculosis, defined as disease which, with the exception of miliary tuberculosis, was not associated with lung involvement, was diagnosed in 160 (46%) of the patients. The incidence of extra-pulmonary tuberculosis, especially lymph node disease, tended to be higher in younger patients but was significantly higher in immigrants from Asia in whom the majority (61%) presented with extra-pulmonary disease. Less than 2% of the subjects in this study were infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Conclusion: Extra-pulmonary tuberculosis accounted for approximately half of the cases of tuberculosis in a western Canadian tuberculosis centre. This high frequency of extra-pulmonary disease was not attributable to HIV infection.

Keywords: age; extra-pulmonary; immigrant; non-HIV; tuberculosis

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: Tuberculosis Services for Southern Alberta, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Publication date: April 1, 1997

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  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease publishes articles on all aspects of lung health, including public health-related issues such as training programmes, cost-benefit analysis, legislation, epidemiology, intervention studies and health systems research. The IJTLD is dedicated to the continuing education of physicians and health personnel and the dissemination of information on tuberculosis and lung health world-wide.

    Certain IJTLD articles are selected for translation into French, Spanish, Chinese or Russian. They are available on the Union website

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