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Free Content Yield of culture of Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex in sputum samples transported from tribal areas

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BACKGROUND: There is little information on the recovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex from sputum samples collected in the field for bacteriological examination.

SETTING: Tribal areas in the State of Madhya Pradesh, in central India.

METHODS: Sputum specimens collected from subjects with chest symptoms in a disease prevalence survey were refrigerated until transportation to the laboratory. The specimens were processed for microscopy and culture. The samples were grouped based on the delay in processing for culture from the day of collection into three groups: 0–3, 4–7 and ≥8 days, and the recovery of M. tuberculosis complex in these groups was analysed. The statistical analysis was performed using χ2 test.

RESULTS: Of the 3651 processed specimens, 114 were positive for M. tuberculosis complex by culture and 96 by smear microscopy. The differences in the proportion of ‘smear-positive, culture-positive’, ‘smear-positive, culture-negative’ and ‘smear-negative, culture-positive’ samples between the three groups were not significant.

CONCLUSION: In difficult-to-reach areas with limited resources, refrigeration of sputum specimens until they are transported for processing at a reference laboratory for culture seems not to significantly affect the recovery of M. tuberculosis complex isolates.

Keywords: M. tuberculosis complex; prevalence survey; refrigeration; sputum transportation

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: 1: Regional Medical Research Centre for Tribals, Jabalpur, India 2: Tuberculosis Research Centre, Chennai, India 3: Office of the WHO Representative to India, New Delhi, India

Publication date: April 1, 2011

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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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