Compliance to treatment of latent tuberculosis infection in a region of Israel

Isr Med Assoc J. 2002 Jan;4(1):13-6.


Background: One of the measures adopted in Israel since 1959 as part of the tuberculosis control program was screening children aged 12-13 years old. The screening comprised single-step tuberculin skin testing using the Mantoux method.

Objectives: To assess the efficacy of tuberculin skin screening for TB in schoolchildren in southwestern Israel as well as the compliance to treatment for latent tuberculosis infection.

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the records of children in the Ashkelon region who underwent a tuberculin skin test during the period 1995-99.

Results: Of the 28,016 eligible children, 27,232 were tested. In 923 children, mostly from the former USSR and Ethiopia, an induration of 10 mm or more was found. Only 52 Israeli-born children tested positive. Tuberculosis was found in seven children with a positive test, five of whom were from Ethiopia. All children who tested positive were referred to the local TB clinic; only 266 children (28.8%) presented. Only 151 completed the recommended treatment of isoniazid for 6 months. Thus, although screening included most of the targeted children aged 13, only a third of them presented to a TB clinic, and of these only about half completed treatment for latent infection.

Conclusions: Our results indicate that the current policy of screening for latent TB in our region is ineffective in terms of implementation of the recommended treatment. We suggest that only high risk groups be screened, and that a concerted effort be made to implement treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Antitubercular Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Communicable Disease Control / statistics & numerical data
  • Ethiopia / ethnology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Isoniazid / therapeutic use*
  • Israel / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Patient Compliance / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tuberculin Test
  • Tuberculosis / diagnosis
  • Tuberculosis / drug therapy*
  • Tuberculosis / epidemiology*
  • USSR / ethnology


  • Antitubercular Agents
  • Isoniazid