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Free Content An evaluation of the completeness and accuracy of active tuberculosis reporting in the United States military

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SETTING: Despite the low incidence of tuberculosis (TB) in the United States military, there is uncertainty in the overall reporting and estimates of incidence.

OBJECTIVE: To assess TB reporting in the active component US military.

DESIGN: TB notification in the US military was compared with three other data sources: laboratory, hospitalization and pharmacy records. Sensitivity and positive predictive value were estimated for all data sources using a gold standard of either a reportable medical event (RME) reported as confirmed or a positive laboratory result for Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Uncorrected and capture-recapture (CR) methods were used to estimate underreporting and completeness of data sources.

RESULTS: Completeness of reporting of pulmonary TB cases was estimated as 72.4% uncorrected or 58.3% with CR. Even after correction for possible underreporting, the incidence of active pulmonary TB was only 0.87 per 100 000 person-years between 2004 and 2006.

CONCLUSION: The rate of active TB in the US military is low. Like civilian surveillance, US military RME surveillance may substantially underreport TB incidence rates. Expanding surveillance to include data sources such as hospitalizations and pharmacy records will increase the number of TB diagnoses at the cost of including many false-positives.
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Keywords: capture-recapture; military medicine; surveillance evaluation; tuberculosis

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Preventive Medicine Residency Program, Silver Spring, Maryland, USA; and Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Department of Preventive Medicine and Biometrics, Bethesda, Maryland, USA 2: Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center, Silver Spring, Maryland, USA 3: Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Department of Preventive Medicine and Biometrics, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

Publication date: 2010-10-01

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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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