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Migrants account for the majority of tuberculosis (TB) cases in low-incidence countries in western Europe. TB incidence among migrants might be influenced by patterns of migration, but this is not well understood.


To investigate differences in TB risk across migrant groups according to migrant status and region of origin.


This prospective cohort study included migrants ≥ 18 years of age who obtained residency in Denmark between 1 January 1993 and 31 December 2015, matched 1:6 to Danish-born individuals. Migrants were grouped according to legal status of residency and region of origin. Incidence rates (IR) and incidence rate ratios (IRR) were estimated by Poisson regression.


The cohort included 142,314 migrants. Migrants had significantly higher TB incidence (IR: 120/100,000 person-years (PY); 95% confidence interval (CI): 115–126) than Danish-born individuals (IR: 4/100,000 PY; 95% CI: 3–4). The IRR was significantly higher in all migrant groups compared with Danish-born (p < 0.01). A particularly higher risk was seen among family-reunified to refugees (IRR: 61.8; 95% CI: 52.7–72.4), quota refugees (IRR: 46.0; 95% CI: 36.6–57.6) and former asylum seekers (IRR: 45.3; 95% CI: 40.2–51.1), whereas lower risk was seen among family-reunified to Danish/Nordic citizens (IRR 15.8; 95% CI: 13.6–18.4) and family-reunified to immigrants (IRR: 16.9; 95% CI: 13.5–21.3).


All migrants had higher TB risk compared with the Danish-born population. While screening programmes focus mostly on asylum seekers, other migrant groups with high risk of TB are missed. Awareness of TB risk in all high-risk groups should be strengthened and screening programmes should be optimised.


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