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Free Content Tuberculosis among health care workers in British Columbia

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OBJECTIVES: To compare the clinical features and prevalence of active TB in British Columbia (BC) health-care workers (HCWs) with those of the general population, between 1991 and 1996.

METHODS: Comparison of 25 HCWs and 50 controls randomly selected from the Centres for Disease Control registry, with respect to demographics, prevention, diagnosis and management.

RESULTS: HCWs had fewer related risk factors, but more had initiated prior chemoprophylaxis (16% vs. 0%, P < 0.01) and knew their bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) (68% vs. 24%, P < 0.001) and purified protein derivative (PPD) status (60% vs 32%, P < 0.05). There were no differences in symptom duration (3.3 ± 3.6 vs. 3.0 ± 3.4 months), mycobacteriology and diagnostic features, treatment duration (264.9 ± 69.9 vs. 239.0 ± 78.7 days) and completion rates (84% for both). All HCWs used self-administered treatment (100% vs. 70%, P < 0.01), and fewer were hospitalized (8% vs. 28%, P < 0.05). Disease rates in nurses (3.6 ± 4.4 per 100000) were lower than the general population rates (9.0 ± 0.8), but did not differ among physiotherapists (8.96 ± 21.95), general practitioners (7.60 ± 11.78) and medical residents (30.75 ± 75.32).

CONCLUSIONS: Clinical features were similar in HCWs, but management strategies differed. BC HCWs are not at increased risk of tuberculosis, but the small sample size limited the power of our study to detect such an increase.
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Keywords: health care workers; tuberculosis

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: Department of Medicine, Respiratory Division, and BC Centre for Disease Control Society, Ministry of Health, British Columbia, Canada

Publication date: 01 November 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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