Treatment to Prevent Active Tuberculosis Could Be Beneficial to Millions

Revised estimate based on the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for prevalence of latent tuberculosis infection excludes those who report prior treatment.

HealthDay News — An estimated 12.6 million persons in the United States could benefit from treatment to prevent active tuberculosis (TB), according to a report published in the October issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases, a publication of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Laura A. Vonnahme, M.P.H., from the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues estimated the number of persons in the United States who are candidates for latent TB treatment by removing those who self-reported prior treatment on the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2011 to 2012.

The researchers found that of the 14.1 million persons in the civilian, noninstitutionalized U.S. population with a positive interferon-γ release assay blood test for TB infection, 12.2 percent self-reported having already been treated for TB disease or latent TB infection (LTBI). Consequently, as of 2011 to 2012, 12.6 million persons could still benefit from LTBI treatment. There were no substantial differences for prevalence of prior treatment for TB disease or LTBI with stratification by birthplace. The prevalence of self-reported prior TB treatment among persons with TB infection ranged from 11.9 to 16.4 percent when considering tuberculin skin test results in the definition of a positive test result for TB infection.

“In estimating the potential effect of interventions to expand screening and treatment for LTBI, our estimate of 12.6 million untreated TB-infected persons is a more meaningful measure for determining potential individual and societal benefits of LTBI treatment,” the authors write.

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