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Free Content Risk of occupational tuberculosis in National Tuberculosis Programme laboratories in Korea

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SETTING: Mycobacteriology laboratories in the National Tuberculosis Control Programme in Korea.

OBJECTIVES: To determine tuberculosis (TB) risk by type of work among laboratory workers compared to non-laboratory workers.

DESIGN: Retrospective study of TB incidence among technicians involved in acid-fast bacilli smear microscopy or culture and/or drug susceptibility testing (DST) compared with that among managerial/clerical workers.

RESULTS: Two cases developed among 77 non-laboratory workers, two among 88 smear microscopy technicians, and 11 among 76 culture/DST technicians during the observation period. Compared to non-laboratory workers, the relative risk of TB was 1.4 (95%CI 0.2–10.0) among microscopy technicians and 7.8 (95%CI 1.7–34.9) among culture/DST technicians. TB developed among 7/15 DST technicians compared to only 2/59 culture/non-DST technicians. Compared to non-laboratory workers, the relative risk for DST technicians was 21.5 (95%CI 4.5–102.5).

CONCLUSION: DST led to the highest relative risk among all types of mycobacteriology work, while performing smear microscopy alone did not pose an elevated risk compared to clerical work.
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Keywords: Korea; laboratory technicians; tuberculosis risk

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), Paris, France 2: Korean National Tuberculosis Association, Seoul, Republic of Korea

Publication date: 01 February 2007

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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