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Free Content Global policies and practices for managing persons exposed to multidrug-resistant tuberculosis

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SETTING: In the 1960s, treatment for latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) with isoniazid proved to be so effective, safe, and inexpensive that research into alternative treatments virtually ceased. Now that multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is widespread, no data are available to guide the management of persons exposed to MDR-TB (contacts).

METHODS: We surveyed National TB Program directors and MDR-TB program managers about current practices for managing MDR-TB contacts in countries with an MDR-TB prevalence of >2% in new patients and those with programs for managing MDR-TB.

RESULTS: Of 35 countries that met the survey criteria, 25 (71%) responded; 24 of these (96%) have a guideline for managing TB contacts. Of these, 19 (76%) usually or always evaluated contacts and treated LTBI. In contrast, 10 (40%) countries reported having a guideline for managing MDR-TB contacts, 11 (44%) usually or always evaluated MDR-TB contacts, and 9 (36%) treated LTBI. Only two (8%) used a regimen that has activity against MDR-TB. Lack of evidence or guidelines was the main reason for not treating MDR-TB contacts.

CONCLUSIONS: Management of MDR-TB contacts is inconsistent and ineffective due to lack of evidence-based guidelines. There is an urgent need to generate evidence to guide policy.

Keywords: child; contact tracing; tuberculosis; tuberculosis, multidrug-resistant

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Division of Tuberculosis Elimination, and Epidemic Intelligence Service, Office of Workforce and Career Development, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA 2: Division of Tuberculosis Elimination, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Publication date: March 1, 2010

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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