Screening for tuberculosis and latent tuberculosis infection among undocumented immigrants at an unspecialised health service unit

Int J Tuberc Lung Dis. 2001 Aug;5(8):712-6.


Setting: Practical or cost-effective strategies to identify undocumented immigrants with latent tuberculosis infection and to deliver treatment for latent TB infection are still unavailable.

Objectives: To compare completion rates of screening procedures for TB infection and disease among undocumented immigrants at specialised (TB) and unspecialised health services in Italy.

Design: A TB unit (TBU) and an unspecialised health service unit for migrants (MHCU) served as recruitment sites for recent undocumented immigrants from TB endemic areas. The screening included a symptom questionnaire, a tuberculin skin test and a chest X-ray.

Results: Of 1318 eligible subjects, 1232 (93.4%) accepted the screening. Screening was completed by 993 (80.6%) individuals overall, 86.5% and 71.4% at the TBU and MHCU services, respectively. In a multivariate analysis model, the only variable associated with an increased probability of completing screening was being enrolled at the TBU site (OR 2.5, 95%CI 1.8-3.5; P < 0.001). Three hundred and ninety-two subjects (39.4%) had a TST test of > or = 10 mm. Eight cases of active tuberculosis were detected, with a calculated prevalence of disease of 650/100,000.

Conclusions: Undocumented immigrants to Italy can be screened for TB at an unspecialised health service unit, although not as efficiently as at a specialised TB unit.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Emigration and Immigration*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Health Services*
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Mass Chest X-Ray
  • Mass Screening
  • Odds Ratio
  • Patient Participation
  • Regression Analysis
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Tuberculin Test
  • Tuberculosis / diagnosis*
  • Tuberculosis / immunology
  • Tuberculosis / physiopathology
  • Virus Latency / immunology*