Evaluation of immigrant tuberculosis screening in industrialized countries

Emerg Infect Dis. 2012 Sep;18(9):1422-9. doi: 10.3201/eid1809.120128.


In industrialized countries, tuberculosis (TB) cases are concentrated among immigrants and driven by reactivation of imported latent TB infection (LTBI). We examined mechanisms used to screen immigrants for TB and LTBI by sending an anonymous, 18-point questionnaire to 31 member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Twenty-nine (93.5%) of 31 responded; 25 (86.2%) screened immigrants for active TB. Fewer countries (16/29, 55.2%) screened for LTBI. Marked variations were observed in targeted populations for age (range <5 years of age to all age groups) and TB incidence in countries of origin of immigrants (>20 cases/100,000 population to >500 cases/100,000). LTBI screening was conducted in 11/16 countries by using the tuberculin skin test. Six countries used interferon-γ release assays, primarily to confirm positive tuberculin skin test results. Industrialized countries performed LTBI screening infrequently and policies varied widely. There is an urgent need to define the cost-effectiveness of LTBI screening strategies for immigrants.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Developed Countries*
  • Emigrants and Immigrants*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Interferon-gamma Release Tests
  • Mass Screening*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tuberculosis / diagnosis*
  • Tuberculosis / epidemiology*
  • Young Adult