Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Deaths among tuberculosis cases in Shanghai, China: who is at risk?

Xin Shen1, Kathryn DeRiemer2, Zheng'an Yuan1*, Mei Shen1, Zhen Xia1, Xiaohong Gui1, Lili Wang1 and Jian Mei1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of TB Control, Shanghai Municipal Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Shanghai, PR China

2 School of Medicine, University of California, One Shields Avenue, Davis, California, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Infectious Diseases 2009, 9:95  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-9-95

Published: 17 June 2009



Information about the risk factors associated with death caused by tuberculosis (TB) or death with TB would allow improvements in the clinical care of TB patients and save lives. The present study sought to identify characteristics associated with increased risk of death during anti-TB treatment in Shanghai, a city in China with one of the country's highest TB mortality rates.


We evaluated deaths among culture positive pulmonary TB cases that were diagnosed in Shanghai during 2000–2004 and initiated anti-TB therapy. Demographic, clinical, mycobacteriological information and treatment outcomes were routinely collected through a mandatory reporting system.


There were 7,999 culture positive pulmonary cases reported during the study period. The overall case fatality rate was 5.5% (440 cases), and approximately half (50.5%) of the deaths were attributed to causes other than TB. Eighty-six percent of the deaths were among TB cases age ≥ 60 years. The significant independent risk factors for mortality during anti-TB treatment were advancing age, male sex, sputum smear positivity, and the presence of a comorbidity.


More vigorous clinical management and prevention strategies by both the TB control program and other public health programs are essential to improve TB treatment outcomes. Earlier suspicion, diagnosis and treatment of TB, especially among persons older than 60 years of age and those with a comorbid condition, could reduce deaths among TB patients.