Household screening could reduce tuberculosis transmission in England

Screening people who live in the same household as a person diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB) for the disease could help reduce its transmission in low-incidence countries, such as England | OnMedica

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If screening is limited to those that have come into contact with pulmonary TB cases – as recently recommended in UK guidelines – one quarter of TB cases could be missed, researchers at Public Health England suggest.

The research team looked at all TB cases notified in 2010-12 in England that were likely to be caused by recent transmission from another person living in the same household, to see whether the same strain that caused the disease in index and subsequent cases.

The researchers found that 7.7% (1,849 out of 24,060) of all TB cases reported between 2010 and 2012 shared a house with at least one other TB case. However, 25% of these cases had discordant strains of the TB bacterium, which means that they were not transmitted by the infected person living in the home. In total, 3.9% of TB cases in England were estimated to be due to recent household transmission. However, strain data were unavailable for 67% (1,242) of household pairs.

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