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Free Content Tuberculosis and multidrug resistance in Zambian prisons, 2000–2001

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BACKGROUND: Data on prevalence of tuberculosis (TB) and multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) in Zambian prisons are lacking.

METHODS: Between January 2000 and July 2001, a case-finding study was performed in 13 Zambian prisons for pulmonary TB. Prisoners were administered a questionnaire to obtain demographic information. Information regarding housing density and diet was also collected. Three consecutive first morning sputum specimens were cultured for Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Antimicrobial resistance testing was performed by the resistance ratio method.

RESULTS: A total of 1080 prisoners were recruited: 1055 were males and 25 females. Sputum from 245 (22.7%) prisoners yielded M. tuberculosis, including 168 (15.6%) with smear-positive disease. Based on a total prison population of 6118, the minimal prevalence of TB was 4.0%. There was a linear relationship between the proportion of prisoners evaluated and the prevalence of TB (R 2 = 0.9366) across facilities, suggesting that the true prevalence of TB may approach 15–20%. Resistance to at least one anti-tuberculosis drug was detected for 40 (23.8%) isolates, while MDR-TB was identified for 16 (9.5%) isolates.

CONCLUSION: There is a high rate of pulmonary TB in Zambian prisons, with significant rates of drug resistance and MDR-TB, highlighting the need for active surveillance and treatment programs.

Keywords: Zambia; prisons; surveillance; tuberculosis

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Department of Pathology and Microbiology and Department of Medicine, University Teaching Hospital, Lusaka, Zambia 2: Department of Pathology and Microbiology and Department of Medicine, University Teaching Hospital, Lusaka, Zambia; Japan International Cooperation Agency, Tokyo, Japan; and TB Laboratory of the University Teaching Hospital, Center for Infectious Diseases, Lusaka, Zambia 3: Section of Infectious Diseases, Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the Division of Infectious Diseases University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Publication date: 2007-11-01

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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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