Tuberculosis in recent Asian immigrants to British Columbia, Canada: 1982-1985

Tubercle. 1991 Dec;72(4):277-83. doi: 10.1016/0041-3879(91)90054-v.


The prevalence and incidence of active tuberculosis among 21,959 recently arrived (1982-1985) immigrants from 7 selected Asian countries into British Columbia (BC), Canada, were reviewed. Among these newly arrived immigrants, 1173 (5.3%) were judged to have inactive tuberculosis at the immigration examination in their country of origin. In this subgroup, 14 of 932 (1.5%) were found to have active tuberculosis at the initial examination after arrival in Canada. Subsequently, 7 further cases arose in this group of inactive cases giving an average annual incidence rate of 0.33% over the 4-year period of study. Only 3 of these 21 cases had had previous antituberculosis chemotherapy. The remaining 20,786 recent immigrants with normal X-rays at the immigration examination contributed 30 cases during the next 4 years--an average annual incidence rate of 0.08% or 8 times the comparable rate for BC (0.01%). The limitations of the immigration screening process are illustrated and the value of early surveillance of immigrants designated as having inactive tuberculosis is underlined. The apparent failure to exclude active disease prior to the arrival of these immigrants is one factor elevating the incidence of active tuberculosis in the first few years after arrival in the host country. Other factors include the relatively high prevalence of inactive tuberculosis among the immigrants from certain countries and their high rate of early relapse after entry, especially in those not previously treated. Such immigrants should be considered for chemoprophylaxis immediately after entry.

MeSH terms

  • Asia / ethnology
  • British Columbia / epidemiology
  • Emigration and Immigration
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Prevalence
  • Tuberculosis / epidemiology*
  • Tuberculosis / prevention & control