The incidence of tuberculosis (TB) in developed countries has decreased since the 1990s, reflecting worldwide efforts to identify and treat TB according to WHO recommendations. However TB remains an important public health problem in industrialized countries with a high proportion of cases occurring among subjects originating from high prevalence countries. The aim of this study was to describe clinical and social characteristics of patients with TB and their outcome in a low incidence area with a high immigration rate.
Four-year retrospective study based on a computerized database and subsequent review of medical records of all patients with TB followed at the outpatient section of the Division of Pulmonary Diseases, Geneva University Hospital, Switzerland.
252 patients (84% foreigners, 25% asylum seekers) aged 38 ± 19 yrs were studied (11% co-infected with HIV). TB was intrapulmonary (TBP) in 158 cases (63%), extrapulmonary (TBE) in 137 (54%), and both in 43 cases (17%). TBP was smear (S)+/culture (C)+ in 59%, S-/C+ in 37%, S-/C- in 4%. Smoking was significantly associated with cavitary disease.
Time from onset of symptoms to diagnosis was 2.1 ± 3.1 months. Initially, 10% were asymptomatic; 35% had no general symptoms. Despite systematic sputum analysis (induced or spontaneous), TBP was confirmed only by bronchoscopy in 38 subjects (24% of TBP). Side effects requiring changes in treatment occurred in 38 cases (11%).
Treatment was completed in 210 (83%) patients. In 42 cases, follow up was unsuccessful; causes were: failure (n = 2; 0.8%), defaulters (n = 8; 3%), transfer out (n = 28; 11%) and death (n = 4; 1.6%). Relapse rate was 0.24 per 100 patient-years. Considering S+ TBP only, success rate was 87%.
TB in our area is predominantly a disease of young foreign-born subjects. Smoking appears as a possible risk factor for cavitary TBP. Time to diagnosis remains long. Compliance to treatment is satisfactory. Success rate for S+ TBP is within WHO objectives.