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Free Content Prevalence of pulmonary tuberculosis among respiratory symptomatic subjects in an out-patient primary health unit

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SETTING: Out-patient primary health unit (OPHU) in Rio de Janeiro City, Brazil.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the impact on the detection of tuberculosis (TB) cases of reducing the time of respiratory symptoms from ‘cough ≥3 weeks’ to ‘cough ≥1 week’ as a criteria for TB case finding among individuals visiting an OPHU for any other reason.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional study.

RESULTS: During the period of the study, 10.7% (765/7174) of subjects reported cough ≥1 week. Among 542 subjects enrolled in the study with cough ≥1 week, 15 (2.7%) cases were diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB, 2767/100000). The probability of detecting TB in the OPHU setting among subjects seeking care for respiratory symptoms was significantly higher than among those presenting to the OPHU for other reasons (OR 31.5, 95%CI 4.1–241.9; P < 0.0001). The probability of identifying TB among patients seeking care due to respiratory symptoms was not influenced by the duration of cough (P = 0.7).

CONCLUSION: These findings suggest that the screening criteria for TB case finding of cough for less than the usual 3 weeks among patients who attend a health facility due to respiratory symptoms in settings with a high prevalence of TB may significantly improve the proportion of TB cases diagnosed.
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Keywords: prevalence; respiratory symptoms; tuberculosis

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Instituto de Doenças do Tórax/Hospital Universitario Clementino Fraga Filho da Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 2: Instituto de Microbiologia da Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 3: Faculdade de Medicina de Ribeirao Preto-Universidade de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil 4: School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Publication date: 01 February 2007

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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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