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TST reversion in a BCG-revaccinated population of nursing and medical students, São Paulo, Brazil, 1997-2000


SETTING: A major university in São Paulo, Brazil, where vaccination against tuberculosis (TB) with bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) was routinely offered to first-year medical and nursing students.

OBJECTIVES: To estimate the probability of negative tuberculin skin test (TST) results over a 4-year period following BCG revaccination, and to evaluate the effect of factors associated with reversion.

DESIGN: Students were enrolled in 1997, initially given a two-step TST, and were retested annually or biannually for the duration of the study. Data on TB exposures and potential risk factors for TST negativity and reversion were collected through annual surveys. A linear mixture survival model was used to estimate the probability of negative TST results over time.

RESULTS: Of 159 students, an estimated 20% had a negative TST result despite revaccination, and a further 31% reverted to negative over 4 years of follow-up. No cofactors significantly affected the probability of reversion.

CONCLUSION: Overall, in the absence of reported exposure to Mycobacterium tuberculosis, 51% of students revaccinated upon entering nursing or medical school would have a negative TST result by the time they begin their internships. In this recently vaccinated population, reversion was common, suggesting that annual TST screening may remain a useful tool.

Levy MZ, Medeiros EA, Shang N, Soares MC, Homenko AS, Almeida RM, Garrett DO, Roth VR, Jarvis WR, Wells CD, Binkin N, Laserson KF

Int. J. Tuberc. Lung Dis. 2005 Jul;9(7):771-6

PMID: 16013773