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Population-based prevalence survey of tuberculosis in the Tigray region of Ethiopia

Gebretsadik Berhe123*, Fikre Enqueselassie2, Elena Hailu1, Wondale Mekonnen1, Tsigemariam Teklu4, Ataklti Gebretsadik4, Rezene Berhe2, Tewodros Haile5 and Abraham Aseffa1

Author Affiliations

1 Armauer Hansen Research Institute, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

2 School of Public Health, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

3 College of Veterinary Medicine, Mekelle University, Mekelle, Ethiopia

4 Tigray Health Bureau, Tigray, Ethiopia

5 Axum University, Axum, Ethiopia

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2013, 13:448  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-13-448

Published: 28 September 2013



Population based prevalence survey is an important epidemiological index to measure the burden of tuberculosis (TB) disease and monitor progress towards TB control in high burden countries like Ethiopia. This study was aimed to estimate the prevalence of bacteriologically confirmed pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.


Sixteen rural and urban villages were randomly selected in a stratified multistage cluster sampling. Individuals aged 15 years and older were screened by symptom inquiry for PTB. Those individuals who were symptomatic of PTB provided two sputum samples for smear microscopy, culture and molecular typing.


The study covering 4,765 households screened a total of 12,175 individuals aged 15 years and above. The overall weighted prevalence of bacteriologically confirmed PTB in the Tigray region of Ethiopia was found to be 216/100,000 (95% CI: 202.08, 230.76) while the weighted prevalence of smear-positive PTB was 169/100,000 (95% CI: 155.53, 181.60). The prevalence of bacteriologically confirmed TB was higher amongst males (352/100 000; 95% CI: 339.05, 364.52) than females (162/100 000; 95% CI: 153.60, 171.17) and among rural (222/100,000; 95% CI: 212.77-231.53) as compared to urban residents (193/100,000; 95% CI: 183.39-203.59).


This study found a relatively higher prevalence smear-positive PTB in the region than in a same period nationwide survey and identified a significant number of undetected PTB cases. The urgency for improved TB case detection and intensified community awareness is emphasized.

Bacteriologically confirmed; Cross-sectional; Pulmonary tuberculosis; Tigray region; Ethiopia