Estimating the prevalence of latent tuberculosis in a low-incidence setting: Australia

Eur Respir J. 2018 Dec 20;52(6):1801218. doi: 10.1183/13993003.01218-2018. Print 2018 Dec.


Migration is a key driver of tuberculosis (TB) in many low-incidence settings, with the majority of TB cases attributed to reactivation of latent TB (LTBI) acquired overseas. A greater understanding of LTBI risk in heterogeneous migrant populations would aid health planning. We aimed to estimate the LTBI prevalence and distribution among locally born and overseas-born Australians.Annual risks of TB infection estimates were applied to population cohorts (by country of birth, year of arrival and age) in Australian census data in 2006, 2011 and 2016.Both the absolute number and proportion of Australian residents with LTBI increased from 4.6% (interquartile range (IQR) 4.2-5.2%) in 2006 to 5.1% (IQR 4.7-5.5%) in 2016, due to the increasing proportion of the population born overseas (23.8% in 2006 to 28.3% in 2016). Of all residents estimated to have LTBI in 2016; 93.2% were overseas born, 21.6% were aged <35 years and 34.4% had migrated to Australia since 2007.The overall prevalence of LTBI in Australia is low. Some residents, particularly migrants from high-incidence settings, may have considerably higher risk of LTBI, and these findings allow for tailored public health interventions to reduce the risk and impact of future TB disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antitubercular Agents / therapeutic use
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Communicable Disease Control
  • Data Collection
  • Emigration and Immigration
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Latent Tuberculosis / diagnosis
  • Latent Tuberculosis / epidemiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence*
  • Public Health*
  • Risk Factors
  • Transients and Migrants
  • Young Adult


  • Antitubercular Agents