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Free Content Tuberculin skin test size and risk of tuberculosis development: a large population-based study in contacts

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SETTING: Contacts of tuberculosis (TB) cases identified from eight Provincial databases in British Columbia, Canada, between 1990 and 2000.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the risk of developing TB based on tuberculin skin test (TST) sizes in contacts of TB cases who did not receive treatment for latent TB infection.

DESIGN: Retrospective, population-based cohort study with a 12-year follow-up.

RESULTS: Among 26542 contacts, 180 individuals developed TB (TB rate 678/100000). Household contacts with a TST size 0–4 mm had a TB rate of 1014/100000, those with 5–9 mm a TB rate of 2162/100000 and those with 10–14 mm a rate of 4478/100000. Children aged 0–10 years with 0–4 mm had a TB rate of 806/100000, those with 5–9 mm a TB rate of 5556/100000 and those with 10–14 mm a rate of 42424/100000. Immunosuppressed contacts with TST sizes 0–4 mm had a TB rate of 630/100000, those with 5–9 mm a TB rate of 1923/100000, and those with 10–14 mm a rate of 1770/100000.

CONCLUSIONS: TB rates were high for all TST sizes in household contacts, 0–10 year old contacts and immunosuppressed contacts. These contacts may benefit from treatment for latent TB infection, regardless of the size of their TST.
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Keywords: latent tuberculosis infection; tuberculin skin test; tuberculosis risk

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí, San Luis Potosí, México 2: University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Publication date: 2007-09-01

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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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