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Nosocomial transmission of Mycobacterium tuberculosis: role of health care workers in outbreak propagation


To investigate an outbreak of tuberculosis (TB) among health care workers (HCWs) at a county hospital, all patients with culture-confirmed TB on wards A and B and all HCWs working at least one shift on these wards from January 1991 through March 1992 were studied. Tuberculin skin test conversions occurred in 30% (ward A) and 48% (ward B) of HCWs; 8 developed active TB. Workers exposed for at least one shift to workers or patients with active TB were more likely to have skin test conversion than were workers who were not exposed (ward A exposure relative risk [RR] for workers = 2.8, P = .005, and for patients = 2.2, P > .5; ward B exposure RR for workers = 2.8, P < .001, and for patients = 5.3, P < .001). Underlying conditions and performing charting activities in the nurses' work room were associated with progression to active TB among infected workers. Transmission was facilitated by delays of < or = 2.5 months in treatment of workers with skin test conversion or TB symptoms.

Zaza S, Blumberg HM, Beck-Sagué C, Haas WH, Woodley CL, Pineda M, Parrish C, Crawford JT, McGowan JE, Jarvis WR

J. Infect. Dis. 1995 Dec;172(6):1542-9

PMID: 7594714