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Free Content Use of DNA fingerprinting for primary surveillance of nosocomial tuberculosis in a large urban hospital: detection of outbreaks in homeless people and migrant workers

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Setting: A large urban teaching hospital in the south-east of Paris.

Objective: Primary surveillance of nosocomial transmission of tuberculosis (TB) by systematic restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis (RFLP) of isolates (n = 161) recovered from smear-positive pulmonary TB patients identified from 1 March 1993 to 28 February 1994, and from all TB patients (with any form of tuberculous infection) identified from 1 March 1994 to 30 April 1995.

Results: Systematic RFLP analysis revealed 12 clusters of patients (n = 40) infected by strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis showing matching RFLP patterns. None of the isolates were multidrug-resistant. Compared with non-clustered patients, clustered patients were more likely to be homeless (55% vs 19%, P ≤ 0.001), or Africans living in hostels for migrant workers (20% vs 6%, P = 0.01), and had fewer previous admissions to hospital (12% vs 28%, P = 0.05). Further epidemiological investigations showed that the clustered TB cases actually resulted not from nosocomial transmission, but from transmission in the community, very likely in homeless shelters and hostels for migrant workers.

Conclusion: No nosocomial transmission of TB was identified among the patients included during the study period. Systematic RFLP analysis using hospital-based sampling can detect the spread of TB in specific environments in the community where transmission is occurring.

Keywords: RFLP; homeless; migrant workers; nosocomial; tuberculosis

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Laboratoire de Bactériologie et Centre National de Référence pour la Surveillance de la Tuberculose et des Infections à Mycobactéries Atypiques, Paris, France 2: Service de Pneumologie, Groupe Hospitalier, Pitié-Salpêtrière, Paris, France 3: Service des Maladies Infectieuses, Groupe Hospitalier, Pitié-Salpêtrière, Paris, France

Publication date: May 1, 1998

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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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