Objective: To identify low-risk groups among asylum seekers in the Netherlands that may be excluded from tuberculosis (TB) screening at entry or during follow-up.
Methods: A retrospective cohort study of medical records of asylum seekers entering the country between January 1994 and March 1997.
Results: Medical records were available for 46,424 of the 96,000 asylum seekers (48%) in this period. One hundred and three pulmonary TB cases were diagnosed at entry (prevalence 222/100,000). Risk factors were age >11 years, history of imprisonment and country of origin at war or with TB incidence >100/100,000. During a mean follow-up period of 10 months, 51 pulmonary TB cases were diagnosed (incidence 134/100,000 person-years). Risk factors were age >11 years, old lesions on entry X-ray, and country of origin whose asylum seekers had a prevalence of TB at entry >200/100,000.
Conclusions: We conclude that 1) those with abnormal X-ray at entry should receive preventive therapy after exclusion of active TB, or undergo intensive follow-up, 2) periodic screening is not indicated for immigrants from countries whose asylum seekers have a low prevalence of pulmonary TB at entry, and 3) children <12 years can be excluded from screening.