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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Prevalence and risk factors of latent tuberculosis infection among health care workers in Malaysia

Shaharudin Rafiza1*, Krishna Gopal Rampal2 and Aris Tahir3

Author Affiliations

1 Institute for Medical Research, Environmental Health Research Centre, Occupational Health Unit, Jalan Pahang, 50588 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

2 Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre, Department of Community Health, Jalan Yaacob Latif, 56000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

3 Institute for Public Health, Jalan Bangsar, 50590 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2011, 11:19  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-19

Published: 18 January 2011

Abstract

Background

Health care workers are exposed to patients with tuberculosis and are at risk of nosocomial infection. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence and factors associated with latent tuberculosis infection among health care workers in Malaysia and also to evaluate the agreement between Quantiferon TB Gold in tube test with Tuberculin Skin Test.

Methods

A cross sectional study was conducted at four randomly selected hospitals in the Klang Valley from December 2008 to May 2009. Self administered questionnaire was used to obtain information on health care workers and possible risk factors. The response rate for this study was 90.8% with 954 respondents completed the questionnaire and were tested with Quantiferon TB Gold in tube for latent tuberculosis infection. Agreement between Quantiferon TB Gold in tube and Tuberculin Skin Test was assessed among 95 health care workers who consented to undergo both tests.

Results

The overall prevalence of latent tuberculosis infection among health care workers was 10.6% (CI: 8.6%; 12.6%). Factors significantly associated with latent tuberculosis infection were aged 35 years and older [9.49 (CI: 2.22; 40.50)], history of living in the same house with close family members or friends who had active tuberculosis [8.69 (CI: 3.00; 25.18)], worked as a nurse [4.65 (CI: 1.10; 19.65)] and being male [3.70 (CI: 1.36; 10.02)]. Agreement between Quantiferon TB Gold in tube test and tuberculin skin test at cut-off points of 10 mm and 15 mm was 50.5% and 82.1% respectively. However, Kappa-agreement was poor for both cut-off points.

Conclusion

The prevalence of latent tuberculosis infection in Malaysia was relatively low for an intermediate TB burden country. We could not comment on the occupational risk of latent tuberculosis infection among health care worker compared to the general population as there were no prevalence data available for latent tuberculosis infection in the general population. Kappa agreement between Quantiferon TB gold in-tube and tuberculin skin test was poor.