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Free Content The burden of childhood tuberculosis and the accuracy of community-based surveillance data

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Abstract:

BACKGROUND: Inadequate surveillance and diagnostic difficulties compromise the quality of epidemiological data on childhood tuberculosis (TB).

OBJECTIVE: To document the incidence of childhood TB and to evaluate the accuracy of community-based surveillance data in a high-burden setting.

METHODS: This prospective observational study was conducted from February 2003 to October 2004 at five primary health care clinics in Cape Town, South Africa. Comprehensive surveillance was done to ensure that all children <13 years of age treated for TB were included.

RESULTS: During the study period, 443 children (<13 years of age) received anti-tuberculosis treatment, of whom 389 (87.8%) were recorded in the TB treatment register. The TB incidence calculated from the TB treatment register was 441/100000/year amongst children and 845/100000/year amongst adults. Fifty-four children treated for TB were not recorded in the TB treatment register, including 21/28 (75%) children with severe disease.

DISCUSSION: Children <13 years of age contributed 13.7% of the total TB burden, but experienced more than half (52.2%) the TB incidence recorded in adults. Community-based surveillance data excluded the majority of children with severe disease. The accuracy of surveillance data is an important consideration when describing the epidemiology of childhood TB or measuring the success of public health interventions.

Keywords: burden; childhood tuberculosis; epidemiology; surveillance

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Desmond Tutu TB Centre, Cape Town, South Africa; Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Stellenbosch, Cape Town, South Africa; and Tygerberg Children's Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa 2: Desmond Tutu TB Centre, Cape Town, South Africa; and Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Stellenbosch, Cape Town, South Africa

Publication date: March 1, 2006

More about this publication?
  • 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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