Evaluation of a large-scale tuberculosis contact investigation in the Netherlands

K. Borgen, B. Koster, H. Meijer, V. Kuyvenhoven, M. van der Sande, F. Cobelens

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The aim of the present study was to evaluate yield and effectiveness of a large-scale contact investigation around a supermarket employee with infectious tuberculosis. Supermarket customers were screened by tuberculin skin test (TST) and/or radiography, depending on individual characteristics. The number of recent infections was estimated based on historical reference data after correction for false-positive TST results. TST screening of 15,518 subjects yielded 12 cases of tuberculosis disease as a direct result of the investigation (1,293 screenings per case identified). Radiographical screening of 5,945 subjects yielded no cases. There were 359 (2.6%) positive TSTs; 117 (34%) were estimated to be due to recent exposure. The number of customers screened in order to find one case of recent infection was 114, varying from 43 for customers who visited the supermarket twice per week or more, to 4,148 for customers who visited less than once per month. In conclusion, although this patient probably transmitted Mycobacterium tuberculosis to at least 117 customers, the contact investigation was inefficient, as large numbers of customers had to be screened and the majority of identified tuberculosis infections were probably not related to the index case. The efficiency could have been improved by omitting radiographical screening and limiting tuberculin skin test screening to customers who reported frequent supermarket visits
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419-425
JournalEuropean Respiratory Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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