On World Tuberculosis Day 2017 we present articles on different aspects of challenges for TB elimination in Europe.
Eurosurveillance, Volume 22, Issue 12, 23 March 2017
Table of Contents
To estimate trends in tuberculosis (TB) notification rates by geographical origin, we retrieved surveillance data from 2010 to 2015 for 29 European Union and European Economic Area countries. The TB notification rate decreased at an annual rate of 5.3%. The decrease in notification rate was higher in native residents (7.0%) than in those of foreign origin (3.7%). Targeted screening and facilitated access to care and treatment could help prevent and control TB in migrants.
All asylum seekers in Germany undergo upon-entry screening for tuberculosis TB, but comprehensive evidence on the yield is lacking. We compared the national estimates with the international literature in a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies reporting the yield of TB, defined as the fraction of active TB cases detected among asylum seekers screened in Germany upon entry. We searched 11 national and international databases for empirical studies and the internet for grey literature published in English or German without restrictions on publication time. Among 1,253 screened articles, we identified six articles reporting the yield of active TB based on German data, ranging from 0.72 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.45–1.10) to 6.41 (95% CI: 4.19–9.37) per 1,000 asylum seekers. The pooled estimate across all studies was 3.47 (95% CI: 1.78–5.73; I2 = 94.9%; p < 0.0001) per 1,000 asylum seekers. This estimate was in line with international evidence (I2 = 0%; p for heterogeneity 0.55). The meta-analysis of available international estimates resulted in a pooled yield of 3.04 (95% CI: 2.24–3.96) per 1,000. This study provides an estimate across several German federal states for the yield of TB screening in asylum seekers. Further research is needed to develop more targeted screening programmes.
In July 2013, a passenger died of infectious extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) on board of an aircraft after a 3-hour flight from Turkey to Germany. Initial information indicated the patient had moved about the aircraft coughing blood. We thus aimed to contact and inform all persons exposed within the aircraft and to test them for newly acquired TB infection. Two-stage testing within 8 weeks from exposure and at least 8 weeks after exposure was suggested, using either interferon gamma release assays (IGRAs) or tuberculin skin test (TST). The TST cut-off was defined at a diameter > 10 mm; for differentiation between conversion and boosting, conversion was defined as increase of skin induration > 5 mm. Overall, 155 passengers and seven crew members were included in the investigation: the questionnaire response rate was 83%; 112 (69%) persons were tested at least once for TB infection. In one passenger, who sat next to the area where the patient died, a test conversion was registered. As of March 2017, no secondary active TB cases have been reported. We describe an unusual situation in which we applied contact tracing beyond existing European guidelines; we found one latent tuberculosis infection in a passenger, which we consider probably newly acquired.
Although the World Health Organization recommends contact investigations around air travel-associated sputum smear-positive tuberculosis (TB) patients, evidence suggests that the information thus obtained may have overestimated the risk of TB infection because it involved some contacts born in countries with high TB burden who were likely to have been infected with TB in the past, or because tuberculin skin tests were used, which are less specific than the interferon gamma release assay (IGRA) particularly in areas where Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination coverage is high. We conducted a questionnaire survey on air travel-associated TB contact investigations in local health offices of Japan from 2012 to 2015, focusing on IGRA positivity. Among 651 air travel-associated TB contacts, average positivity was 3.8% (95% confidence interval (CI): 2.5–5.6) with a statistically significant increasing trend with older age (p < 0.0094). Positivity among 0–34 year-old contacts was 1.0% (95% CI: 0.12–3.5%), suggesting their risk of TB infection is as small as among Japanese young adults with low risk of TB infection (positivity: 0.85–0.90%). Limiting the contact investigation to fewer passengers (within two seats surrounding the index case, rather than two rows) seems reasonable in the case of aircraft with many seats per row.
Eurosurveillance Edition: 23 March 2017
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