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Free Content Evaluation of tuberculosis contact investigations in California

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OBJECTIVE: To estimate the burden of tuberculosis (TB) contact investigations in California, assess outcomes and effectiveness, and identify performance gaps.

METHODS: Aggregate program management reports were used to examine contact investigations conducted for pulmonary TB cases reported between 1 July 1999 and 30 June 2000 in California. Findings were compared to national objectives, and performance gaps were identified. Costs were estimated, and effectiveness of TB case detection and prevention was assessed.

RESULTS: A total of 2032 acid-fast bacilli sputum smear-positive and sputum smear-negative/culture-positive cases was reported; 17774 contacts were elicited, and 15582 (88%) contacts were evaluated. TB disease and latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) were diagnosed in 111 (<1%) and 4609 (30%) contacts, respectively; 1958 (43%) contacts with LTBI completed treatment. Costs of contact investigations were estimated at $4.8 million; 81% of expected TB cases were detected, but only 35% of cases expected to occur within 2 years following the investigation were prevented.

CONCLUSIONS: California's performance did not meet national objectives for contact evaluation or treatment completion; improved effectiveness of contact investigations in California is needed. Although analysis of existing contact investigation surveillance data provided a macro-level view of performance gaps, expanded surveillance data are required to inform interventions.
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Keywords: communicable diseases; contact tracing; outcome assessment; program evaluation; surveillance; tuberculosis

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: California Department of Health Services, Tuberculosis Control Branch, Berkeley, California, USA

Publication date: 2003-12-01

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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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