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Free Content Transmission of Mycobacterium tuberculosis from an infant

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SETTING: This report investigates the unusual transmission of Mycobacterium tuberculosis from a 12-week-old infant with nosocomially acquired tuberculosis (TB). Compliance with recommendations on the post-exposure management of young children is described.

DESIGN: Contacts of an infant case of TB were identified and recommended to undergo baseline and post-exposure tuberculin skin tests (TST) as per Canadian TB standards. TST conversion was measured at least 8 weeks post exposure. Children aged <6 years were recommended to initiate preventive treatment with isoniazid (INH) until their post-exposure TST. Information on TST results and adherence to therapy were analysed from existing medical records.

RESULTS: Overall, 17 TST conversions were documented among 732 contacts: both parents, two health care workers (HCWs) who provided close care, and several patients, visitors and one staff member without obvious close contact. Of 65 eligible children, 46% completed post-exposure therapy as recommended. The most common reasons for treatment failure were concern about side effects, perception of low risk and lack of physician support.

CONCLUSION: This investigation suggests that all children, including infants, with cough and numerous bacilli or extensive pulmonary disease should be considered infectious. Health care provider education is necessary to resolve the observed low compliance with current post-exposure management guidelines.
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Keywords: disease transmission; infant; tuberculosis

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Durham Region Health Department, Whitby, Ontario, Canada; and Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada 2: Durham Region Health Department, Whitby, Ontario, Canada 3: Department of Pediatrics, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; and Department of Pediatrics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada 4: Lakeridge Health Corporation, Oshawa, Ontario, Canada

Publication date: 2006-09-01

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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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