Tuberculosis in healthcare workers: A survey of cases in England and Wales

A. R. Rushdy, J. Grace-Parker, C. Gilham, John Watson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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Abstract

Aims: To investigate the cases of tuberculosis in healthcare workers in England and Wales in 1993 and to describe this in greater detail to inform future prevention Methods: Cases of tuberculosis in healthcare workers were identified from the 1993 National Survey of Notifications of Tuberculosis in England and Wales and through local Consultants in Communicable Disease Control. Detailed information on the case and occupational history using a standard questionnaire was obtained from Clinicians, Occupational Health Physicians and the 1993 National Survey. Results: Demographic information was available on all 69 cases identified. More detailed clinical information and occupational history was obtained in 42 (61%). Over 50% of all cases were in nurses and in non-white ethnic groups. Pulmonary tuberculosis was present in 75% of whom 33% had smear positive sputum. Symptom duration prior to diagnosis averaged one month (range 0-15 months). Eight (20%)cases were known to have contact with tuberculosis patients more than once a month. In the opinion of the attendant clinicians opinion 4 (10%)cases were thought to be occupationally acquired in the UK. Only 50% was there a record of occupational health screening: in 16% the diagnosis of tuberculosis was made at that time in 1993. Of those eligible for BCG vaccination at the time of occupational health screening 5 (12%) were not vaccinated. Discussion: Healthcare workers can acquire tuberculosis occupationally although this is not common. Although most are diagnosed early in their illness, there are still a few diagnosed late posing a risk of further transmission. Uptake of occupational screening prior to 1993 was poor but where available was a means of diagnosis in some cases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)A34
JournalThorax
Volume52
Issue numberSUPPL. 6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1997

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