Background: Active case-finding among contacts of patients with tuberculosis is a global health priority, but the effects of active versus passive case-finding are poorly characterised. We assessed the contribution of active versus passive case-finding to tuberculosis detection among contacts and compared sex and disease characteristics between contacts diagnosed through these strategies.
Methods: In shanty towns in Callao, Peru, we identified index patients with tuberculosis and followed up contacts aged 15 years or older for tuberculosis. All patients and contacts were offered free programmatic active case-finding entailing sputum smear microscopy and clinical assessment. Additionally, all contacts were offered intensified active case-finding with sputum smear and culture testing monthly for 6 months and then once every 4 years. Passive case-finding at local health facilities was ongoing throughout follow-up.
Findings: Between Oct 23, 2002, and May 26, 2006, we identified 2666 contacts, who were followed up until March 1, 2016. Median follow-up was 10·0 years (IQR 7·5-11·0). 232 (9%) of 2666 contacts were diagnosed with tuberculosis. The 2-year cumulative risk of tuberculosis was 4·6% (95% CI 3·5-5·5), and overall incidence was 0·98 cases (95% CI 0·86-1·10) per 100 person-years. 53 (23%) of 232 contacts with tuberculosis were diagnosed through active case-finding and 179 (77%) were identified through passive case-finding. During the first 6 months of the study, 23 (45%) of 51 contacts were diagnosed through active case-finding and 28 (55%) were identified through passive case-finding. Contacts diagnosed through active versus passive case-finding were more frequently female (36 [68%] of 53 vs 85 [47%] of 179; p=0·009), had a symptom duration of less than 15 days (nine [25%] of 36 vs ten [8%] of 127; p=0·03), and were more likely to be sputum smear-negative (33 [62%] of 53 vs 62 [35%] of 179; p=0·0003).
Interpretation: Although active case-finding made an important contribution to tuberculosis detection among contacts, passive case-finding detected most of the tuberculosis burden. Compared with passive case-finding, active case-finding was equitable, helped to diagnose tuberculosis earlier and usually before a positive result on sputum smear microscopy, and showed a high burden of undetected tuberculosis among women.
Funding: Wellcome Trust, Department for International Development Civil Society Challenge Fund, Joint Global Health Trials consortium, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Imperial College National Institutes of Health Research Biomedical Research Centre, Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, Sir Halley Stewart Trust, WHO, TB REACH, and IFHAD: Innovation for Health and Development.
Copyright © 2019 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an Open Access article under the CC BY 4.0 license. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.