Revisiting rates of reactivation tuberculosis: a population-based approach

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2010 Aug 1;182(3):420-5. doi: 10.1164/rccm.200909-1355OC. Epub 2010 Apr 15.


Rationale: Reactivation tuberculosis (TB) occurs as a result of reactivation of latent TB infection (LTBI), and was reported to occur in the United States at a rate of 0.10 to 0.16 cases per 100 person-years in the 1950s; it has not been measured since.

Objectives: To calculate the rate of reactivation TB in a U.S. community.

Methods: A population-based tuberculin skin test survey for LTBI was performed in western Palm Beach County, Florida, from 1998 to 2000 along with a cluster analysis of TB case isolates in the same area from 1997 to 2001. Reactivation (unclustered) TB was presumed to have arisen from the population with LTBI.

Measurements and main results: The rate of reactivation TB among persons with LTBI without HIV infection was 0.040 cases per 100 person-years (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.024-0.067) using the n method and 0.058 cases per 100 person-years (95% CI, 0.038-0.089) using the n-1 method. HIV infection was the strongest risk factor for reactivation (rate ratio [RR], 57; 95% CI, 27-120; P < 0.001). Among persons without HIV infection, reactivation was increased among those older than 50 years (RR, 3.8; 95% CI, 1.3-11) and among those born in the United States (RR, 3.2; 95% CI, 1.1-9.3).

Conclusions: Rates of reactivation TB in this area have declined substantially since the 1950s. The greatest part of this decline may be attributed to the disappearance of old, healed TB in the population. If similar declines are seen in other areas of the United States, the cost-effectiveness of screening and treatment of LTBI may be substantially less than previously estimated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections / epidemiology
  • Age Factors
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Female
  • Florida / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Population Surveillance
  • Recurrence
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Risk Factors
  • Rural Population
  • Tuberculin Test
  • Tuberculosis / epidemiology*