Objective: Correctional facilities have often been cited as reservoirs for tuberculosis (TB), presenting a potential threat to the general population. Although correctional facilities are recognised as ideal settings for interventions, little is known about the TB epidemiology within them. The purpose of our survey was to collect data on TB in prisons of the WHO European Region and on existing control measures.
Design: A questionnaire was sent to 52 EuroTB correspondents asking for 2002 data on the total number of inmates, number of prisoners with TB, resistance rates, screening strategies, monitoring and responsibilities.
Results: Twenty-two (42.3%) countries completed the questionnaire. The median TB notification rate was 232 per 100,000 inmates (0-17,808). Prisoners had up to 83.6 times more TB than civilians. The majority (90.9%) of the participating countries reported performing active screening for TB on entry into prison, with a median detection rate of 393/100,000 (42-2362). Of the respondent countries, 81.8% claimed to perform contact investigations and 86.4% to house infectious TB patients separately.
Conclusion: Although response to this survey was only 42.3% and might be biased by a country's engagement in TB control in prisons, the results highlight the vulnerability of prisoners to TB and emphasise the need for adequate case-finding and containment strategies in prison.