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Rates of Latent Tuberculosis in Health Care Staff in Russia

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      Abstract

      Background

      Russia is one of 22 high burden tuberculosis (TB) countries. Identifying individuals, particularly health care workers (HCWs) with latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI), and determining the rate of infection, can assist TB control through chemoprophylaxis and improving institutional cross-infection strategies. The objective of the study was to estimate the prevalence and determine the relative risks and risk factors for infection, within a vertically organised TB service in a country with universal bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination.

      Methods and Findings

      We conducted a cross-sectional study to assess the prevalence of and risk factors for LTBI among unexposed students, minimally exposed medical students, primary care health providers, and TB hospital health providers in Samara, Russian Federation. We used a novel in vitro assay (for gamma-interferon [IFN-γ]) release to establish LTBI and a questionnaire to address risk factors. LTBI was seen in 40.8% (107/262) of staff and was significantly higher in doctors and nurses (39.1% [90/230]) than in students (8.7% [32/368]) (relative risk [RR] 4.5; 95% confidence interval [CI] 3.1–6.5) and in TB service versus primary health doctors and nurses: respectively 46.9% (45/96) versus 29.3% (34/116) (RR 1.6; 95% CI 1.1–2.3). There was a gradient of LTBI, proportional to exposure, in medical students, primary health care providers, and TB doctors: respectively, 10.1% (24/238), 25.5% (14/55), and 55% (22/40). LTBI was also high in TB laboratory workers: 11/18 (61.1%).

      Conclusions

      IFN-γ assays have a useful role in screening HCWs with a high risk of LTBI and who are BCG vaccinated. TB HCWs were at significantly higher risk of having LTBI. Larger cohort studies are needed to evaluate the individual risks of active TB development in positive individuals and the effectiveness of preventive therapy based on IFN-γ test results.

      Abstract

      Gamma-interferon assays were used in a cross-sectional study of Russian health care workers and found high rates of latent tuberculosis infection.

      Editors' Summary

      Background.

      Tuberculosis (TB) is a very common and life-threatening infection caused by a bacterium, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which is carried by about a third of the world's population. Many people who are infected do not develop the symptoms of disease; this is called “latent infection.” However, it is important to detect latent infection among people in high-risk communities, in order to prevent infected people from developing active disease, and therefore also reduce the spread of TB within the community. 22 countries account for 80% of the world's active TB, and Russia is one of these. Health care workers are particularly at risk for developing active TB disease in Russia, but the extent of latent infection is not known. In order to design appropriate measures for controlling TB in Russia, it is important to know how common latent infection is among health care workers, as well as other members of the community.

      Why Was This Study Done?

      The researchers here had been studying the spread of tuberculosis in Samara City in southeastern Russia, where the rate of TB disease among health care workers was very high; in 2004 the number of TB cases among health care workers on TB wards was over ten times that in the general population. There was also no information available on the rates of latent TB infection among health care workers in Samara City. The researchers therefore wanted to work out what proportion of health care workers in Samara City had latent TB infection, and particularly to compare groups whom they thought would be at different levels of risk (students, clinicians outside of TB wards, clinicians on TB wards, etc.). Finally, the researchers also wanted to use a new test for detecting latent TB infection. The traditional test for detecting TB infection (tuberculin skin test) is not very reliable among people who have received the Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination against TB earlier in life, as is the case in Russia. In this study a new test was therefore used, based on measuring the immune response to two proteins produced by M. tuberculosis, which are not present in the BCG vaccine strain.

      What Did the Researchers Do and Find?

      In this study the researchers tested health care workers from all the TB clinics in Samara City, as well as other clinical staff and students, for latent tuberculosis. In total, 630 people had blood samples taken for testing. A questionnaire was also used to collect information on possible risk factors for TB. As expected, the rate of latent TB infection was highest among clinical staff working in the TB clinics, 47% of whom were infected with M. tuberculosis. This compared to a 10% infection rate among medical students and 29% infection rate among primary care health workers. The differences in infection rate between medical students, primary care health workers, and TB clinic staff were statistically significant and reflected progressively increasing exposure to TB. Among primary care health workers, past exposure to TB was a risk factor for having latent TB infection.

      What Do These Findings Mean?

      This study showed that there was a high rate of latent TB infection among health care workers in Samara City and that infection is increasingly likely among people with either past or present exposure to TB. The results suggest that further research should be carried out to test whether mass screening for latent infection, followed by treatment, will reduce the rate of active TB disease among health care workers and also prevent further spread of TB. There are concerns that widespread treatment of latent infection may not be completely effective due to the relatively high prevalence of drug-resistant TB strains and any new initiatives would therefore need to be carefully evaluated.

      Additional Information.

      Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040055.

      • The Stop TB Partnership has been set up to eliminate TB as a public health problem; its site provides data and resources about TB in each of the 22 most-affected countries, including Russia

      • Tuberculosis minisite from the World Health Organization, providing data on tuberculosis worldwide, details of the Stop TB strategy, as well as fact sheets and current guidelines

      • The US Centers for Disease Control has a tuberculosis minisite, including a fact sheet on latent TB

      • Information from the US Centers for Disease Control about the QuantiFERON-TB Gold test, used to test for latent TB infection in this study

      Related collections

      Most cited references 25

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      Targeted tuberculin testing and treatment of latent tuberculosis infection. This official statement of the American Thoracic Society was adopted by the ATS Board of Directors, July 1999. This is a Joint Statement of the American Thoracic Society (ATS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This statement was endorsed by the Council of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. (IDSA), September 1999, and the sections of this statement.

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        Specific immune-based diagnosis of tuberculosis.

        Current diagnostic tests for tuberculosis based on tuberculin have poor specificity, and both BCG vaccination and exposure to non-tuberculosis mycobacteria produce a response similar to that induced by infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The identification of regions of the M. tuberculosis genome that are not present in BCG and non-tuberculous mycobacteria provides a unique opportunity to develop new highly specific diagnostic reagents. We describe the current status of attempts to exploit this information and summarise recent research that has used defined antigens for an accurate and rapid test for tuberculosis infection based on the detection of T cells sensitised to M. tuberculosis either by blood tests in vitro or skin tests in vivo.
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          Guidelines for using the QuantiFERON-TB Gold test for detecting Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection, United States.

          On May 2, 2005, a new in vitro test, QuantiFERON-TB Gold (QFT-G, Cellestis Limited, Carnegie, Victoria, Australia), received final approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as an aid for diagnosing Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection. This test detects the release of interferon-gamma (IFN-g) in fresh heparinized whole blood from sensitized persons when it is incubated with mixtures of synthetic peptides representing two proteins present in M. tuberculosis: early secretory antigenic target-6 (ESAT-6) and culture filtrate protein-10 (CFP-10). These antigens impart greater specificity than is possible with tests using purified protein derivative as the tuberculosis (TB) antigen. In direct comparisons, the sensitivity of QFT-G was statistically similar to that of the tuberculin skin test (TST) for detecting infection in persons with untreated culture-confirmed tuberculosis (TB). The performance of QFT-G in certain populations targeted by TB control programs in the United States for finding latent TB infection is under study. Its ability to predict who eventually will have TB disease has not been determined, and years of observational study of substantial populations would be needed to acquire this information. In July 2005, CDC convened a meeting of consultants and researchers with expertise in the field to review scientific evidence and clinical experience with QFT-G. On the basis of this review and discussion, CDC recommends that QFT-G may be used in all circumstances in which the TST is currently used, including contact investigations, evaluation of recent immigrants, and sequential-testing surveillance programs for infection control (e.g., those for health-care workers). This report provides specific cautions for interpreting negative QFT-G results in persons from selected populations. This report is aimed at public health officials, health-care providers, and laboratory workers with responsibility for TB control activities in the United States.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ] Health Protection Agency Mycobacterium Reference Unit and Clinical TB and HIV Group, Institute of Cell and Molecular Sciences, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary College, University of London, London, United Kingdom
            [2 ] Samara Oblast Tuberculosis Service, Samara, Russian Federation
            Médecins Sans Frontières, The Netherlands
            Author notes
            * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: f.drobniewski@ 123456qmul.ac.uk
            Contributors
            Role: Academic Editor
            Journal
            PLoS Med
            pmed
            PLoS Medicine
            Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
            1549-1277
            1549-1676
            February 2007
            13 February 2007
            : 4
            : 2
            1796908
            10.1371/journal.pmed.0040055
            06-PLME-RA-0462R3 plme-04-02-10
            17298167
            (Academic Editor)
            Copyright: © 2007 Drobniewski et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
            Counts
            Pages: 7
            Categories
            Research Article
            Infectious Diseases
            Public Health and Epidemiology
            Respiratory Medicine
            Tuberculosis
            Respiratory Medicine
            Epidemiology
            Public Health
            Custom metadata
            Drobniewski F, Balabanova Y, Zakamova E, Nikolayevskyy V, Fedorin I (2007) Rates of latent tuberculosis in health care staff in Russia. PLoS Med 4(2): e55. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0040055

            Medicine

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