Annual risk of tuberculosis infection in Sri Lanka: a low prevalent country with a high BCG vaccination coverage in the South-East Asia Region

WHO South East Asia J Public Health. Jan-Mar 2013;2(1):34-40. doi: 10.4103/2224-3151.115835.


Introduction: Despite its simplicity, efficiency and reliability, Sri Lanka has not used the Annual Risk of Tuberculosis Infection (ARTI) to assess the prevalence and efficiency of tuberculosis (TB) control. Hence, a national tuberculin survey was conducted to estimate the ARTI.

Materials and methods: A school-based, cross-sectional tuberculin survey of 4352 children aged 10 years irrespective of their BCG vaccination or scar status was conducted. The sample was selected from urban, rural and estate strata using two-stage cluster sampling technique. In the first stage, sectors representing three strata were selected and, in the second stage, participants were selected from 120 clusters. Using the mode of the tuberculin reaction sizes (15 mm) and the mirror-image technique, the prevalence and the ARTI were estimated.

Results: The prevalence of TB estimated for urban, rural and estate sectors were 13.9%, 2.2% and 2.3%, respectively. The national estimate of the prevalence of TB was 4.2% (95% CI = 1.7-7.2%). ARTI for the urban, rural and estate sectors were 1.4%, 0.2% and 0.2%, respectively, and the national estimate was 0.4% (95% CI = 0.2-0.7%). The estimated annual burden of newly infected or re-infected TB cases with the potential of developing into the active disease (400/100 000 population) was nearly 10-fold higher than the national new case detection rate (48/100 000 population).

Conclusion: The national estimate of ARTI was lower than the estimates for many developing countries. The high-estimated risk for the urban sector reflected the need for intensified, sector-specific focus on TB control activities. This underscores the need to strengthen case detection. Repeat surveys are essential to determine the annual decline rate of infection.