Tuberculosis in elderly persons

Annu Rev Med. 1991;42:267-76. doi: 10.1146/


As tuberculosis has been controlled in the western world, it has retreated into enclaves. The largest of these is among persons who are now over age 65, many of whom carry tubercle bacilli in dormant lesions implanted in earlier years and still capable of causing tuberculosis as life forces wane. The diagnosis is all too often not thought of in this age group; as a result, a patient with what was thought to be an episode of bronchitis or bronchopneumonia may die after having exposed a number of young health workers to tuberculosis in a country where it should have been eliminated several years ago. The purpose of this paper is to heighten the index of suspicion of tuberculosis among physicians caring for the elderly.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cross Infection / epidemiology
  • Cross Infection / prevention & control
  • Homes for the Aged
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Nursing Homes
  • Tuberculin Test
  • Tuberculosis / epidemiology*
  • Tuberculosis / therapy
  • United States / epidemiology