Regular sputum check-up for early diagnosis of tuberculosis after exposure in healthcare facilities

Wen Cheng Chao, Chieh Liang Wu, Po Yu Liu, Chi Chang Shieh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The early diagnosis of patients with TB disease is critical after an outbreak of tuberculosis (TB) infection in healthcare facilities. In this study, we report a catastrophic TB outbreak in a psychiatric healthcare facility and analyze the role of regular sputum check-ups and other diagnostic tools to facilitate an early diagnosis. Methods: Every exposed participant received regular sputum check-ups and chest X-rays (CXR) as part of the outbreak management protocol. We retrospectively analyzed data from the contact participants to identify risk factors for eventual TB development and investigated the diagnostic efficacy of regular sputum check-ups. Results: Among 133 contact participants, 16 (12.0%) developed TB during the 4-year follow-up period. Low body-mass-index (BMI) (<21) (adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) 3.16, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.11-8.98) and long duration of contact (>3 months) (aHR 8.70, 95% CI, 1.14-63.34) independently predicted the development of TB. Even though regular sputum check-ups required significant resources, they did facilitate the early identification of new TB cases among the contact participants. Regular sputum check-ups for high-risk patients based on BMI, contact duration and CXR findings may be a practical approach when compared with universal sputum follow-up, with a slightly decreased sensitivity but high positive likelihood ratio (88%, [95% CI, 62-98%] and 5.12, [95%CI, 3.30-7.95], respectively). Conclusion: While regular sputum check-ups for all contact participants facilitated the early identification of cases after the outbreak of TB in the healthcare facility, regular sputum check-ups for high-risk patients might be an effective alternative in resource-limited settings.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0157054
JournalPloS one
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Jun 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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