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1.  Community-based cross-sectional survey of latent tuberculosis infection in Afar pastoralists, Ethiopia, using QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube and tuberculin skin test 
Background
There is little information concerning community-based prevalence of latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) using T-cell based interferon-γ (IFN-γ) release assays (IGRAs), particularly in TB endemic settings. In this study, the prevalence of LTBI in the Afar pastoral community was assessed using QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube (QFTGIT) and tuberculin skin tests (TST).
Methods
A community-based cross-sectional survey of LTBI involving 652 apparently healthy adult pastoralists was undertaken in the pastoral community of Amibara District of the Afar Region between April and June 2010.
Results
The prevalence of LTBI was estimated as 63.7% (363/570) using QFTGIT at the cut-off point recommended by the manufacturer (≥ 0.35 IU/ml IFN-γ), while it was 74.9% (427/570) using a cut-off point ≥ 0.1 IU/ml IFN-γ. The QFTGIT-based prevalence of LTBI was not significantly associated with the gender or age of the study participants. However, the prevalence of LTBI was 31.2% (183/587) using TST at a cut-off point ≥ 10 mm of skin indurations, and it was higher in males than females (36.8% vs. 23.5%, X2 = 11.76; p < 0.001). There was poor agreement between the results of the tests (k = 0.098, 95% CI, 0.08 - 0.13). However, there was a positive trend between QFTGIT and TST positivity (X2 = 96.76, P < 0.001). Furthermore, individuals with skin indurations ≥ 10 mm were 13.6 times more likely to have positive results using QFTGIT than individuals with skin indurations of 0 mm (adjusted OR = 13.6; 95%CI, 7.5 to 24.7, p < 0.001).
Conclusions
There is currently no agreed gold standard for diagnosis of LTBI. However, the higher prevalence of LTBI detected using QFTGIT rather than TST suggests that QFTGIT could be used for epidemiological studies concerning LTBI at the community level, even in a population unreactive to TST. Further studies of adults and children will be required to assess the effects of factors such as malnutrition, non-tuberculosis mycobacterial infections, HIV and parasitic infections on the performance of QFTGIT.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-89
PMCID: PMC3080306  PMID: 21477326
2.  Performance of QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube (QFTGIT) for the diagnosis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) infection in Afar Pastoralists, Ethiopia 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2010;10:354.
Background
Currently, T-cell based gamma interferon (IFNγ) release assays (IGRAs) are acknowledged as the best methods available for the screening of latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) and also as aid for the diagnosis of active tuberculosis (TB). To our information, the performance of these diagnostic tests has not been evaluated in Ethiopia. Therefore, the intent of this study was to evaluate the performance of QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube (QFTGIT) in patients clinically suspected of active pulmonary TB (PTB) as well as in healthy subjects prior to its utilization for the epidemiological study of active TB and LTBI in Afar pastoralists.
Methods
The sensitivity of QFTGIT was evaluated in 140 subjects who were clinically suspected of PTB using the cut-off value recommended by the manufacturer (≥ 0.35 IU/ml) and disease-specific cut-off value. Sputum culture result was used as a gold standard. The specificity of the test was evaluated both in patients and in 55 tuberculin skin test (TST) negative healthy subjects.
Results
Out of the 140 study participants, 37 (26.4%) were positive for active PTB by culture. Out of the 37 subjects who had positive results by culture, 6 individuals were HIV-seropositive. Out of the 103 subjects who were negative by culture, 6 subjects had indeterminate results and 21 were HIV-seropositive. The performance of the test was assessed using data from 107 (31 culture positive and 76 culture negative) individuals who were clinically suspected of PTB and HIV-seronegatives. Using the manufacturer recommended cut-off value, the sensitivity of the test was 64.5% (20/31), while its specificity was 36.8% (28/76). The sensitivity of the test was increased to 77.4%, while the specificity was reduced to 23.7% using a cut-off value ≥ 0.1 IU/ml of IFNγ as disease-specific cut-off value. In TST negative healthy subjects, the specificity of the test was 58.2%.
Conclusion
Our findings revealed a low sensitivity of QFTGIT in the diagnosis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) infection in the present study area using the cut-off value recommended by the manufacturer. Nevertheless, the sensitivity increased from 64.5% to 77.4% by lowering the cut-off value recommended by the manufacturer to ≥ 0.1 IU/ml of IFNγ level. Hence, it is of practical importance to evaluate the performance of QFTGIT in population under different settings prior to its application either for the diagnosis of active TB or LTBI.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-10-354
PMCID: PMC3009640  PMID: 21162756
3.  Patient and health care system delays in the start of tuberculosis treatment in Norway 
Background
Delay in start of tuberculosis (TB) treatment has an impact at both the individual level, by increasing the risk of morbidity and mortality, and at the community level, by increasing the risk of transmission. The aims of this study were to assess the delays in the start of treatment for TB patients in Oslo/Akershus region, Norway and to analyze risk factors for the delays.
Methods
This study was based on information from the National TB Registry, clinical case notes from hospitals and referral case notes from primary health care providers. Delays were divided into patient, health care system and total delays. The association with sex, birthplace, site of the disease and age group was analyzed by multiple linear regression.
Results
Among the 83 TB patients included in this study, 71 (86%) were born abroad. The median patient, health care system and total delays were 28, 33 and 63 days respectively, with a range of 1–434 days. In unadjusted analysis, patient delay and health care system delay did not vary significantly between men and women, according to birthplace or age group. Patients with extra-pulmonary TB had a significantly longer patient, health care system and total delay compared to patients with pulmonary TB. Median total delay was 81 and 56 days in the two groups of TB patients respectively. The health care system delay exceeded the patient delay for those born in Norway. The age group 60+ years had significantly shorter patient delay than the reference group aged 15–29 years when adjusted for multiple covariates. Also, in the multivariate analysis patients born in Norway had significantly longer health care system delay than patients born abroad.
Conclusion
A high proportion of patients had total delays in start of TB treatment exceeding two months. This study emphasizes the need of awareness of TB in the general population and among health personnel. Extra-pulmonary TB should be considered as a differential diagnosis in unresolved cases, especially for immigrants from high TB prevalence countries.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-6-33
PMCID: PMC1435913  PMID: 16504113
4.  Assessment of routine surveillance data as a tool to investigate measles outbreaks in Mozambique 
Background
Measles remains a major public health problem in Mozambique despite significant efforts to control the disease. Currently, health authorities base their outbreak control on data from the routine surveillance system while vaccine coverage and efficacy are calculated based on mathematical projections of the target population. The aim of this work was to assess the quality of the measles reporting system during two outbreaks that occurred in Maputo City (1998) and in Manica Province (2002).
Methods
Retrospectively, we collected data from the routine surveillance system, i.e. register books at health facilities and weekly provincial and national epidemiological reports. To test whether the provinces registered an outbreak, the distribution of measles cases was compared to an endemic level established based on cases reported in previous years.
Results
There was a significant under-notification of measles cases from the health facilities to the province and national level. Register books, the primary sources of information for the measles surveillance system, were found to be incomplete for two main variables: "age" and "vaccination status".
Conclusion
The Mozambican surveillance system is based on poor quality records, receives the notification of only a fraction of the total number of measles in the country and may result in failures do detect epidemics. The measles reporting system does not provide the data needed by Expanded Program on Immunisation managers to make evidence-based decisions, nor does it allow in-depth analysis to monitor measles epidemiology in the country. The progress of Mozambique to the next stage of measles elimination will require an improvement of the routine surveillance system and a stronger Health Information System.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-6-29
PMCID: PMC1388222  PMID: 16504049
5.  Diagnostic and treatment delay among pulmonary tuberculosis patients in Ethiopia: a cross sectional study 
Background
Delayed diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis (TB) results in severe disease and a higher mortality. It also leads to an increased period of infectivity in the community. The objective of this study was to determine the length of delays, and analyze the factors affecting the delay from onset of symptoms of pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) until the commencement of treatment.
Methods
In randomly selected TB management units (TBMUs), i.e. government health institutions which have diagnosing and treatment facilities for TB in Amhara Region, we conducted a cross sectional study from September 1-December 31/2003. Delay was analyzed from two perspectives, 1. Period between onset of TB symptoms to first visit to any health provider (health seeking period), and from the first health provider visit to initiation of treatment (health providers' delay), and 2. Period between onset of TB symptoms to first visit to a medical provider (patients' delay), and from this visit to commencement of anti-TB treatment (health systems' delay). Patients were interviewed on the same date of diagnosis using a semi-structured questionnaire. Logistics regression analysis was applied to analyze the risk factors of delays.
Results
A total of 384 new smear positive PTB patients participated in the study. The median total delay was 80 days. The median health-seeking period and health providers' delays were 15 and 61 days, respectively. Conversely, the median patients' and health systems' delays were 30 and 21 days, respectively. Taking medical providers as a reference point, we found that forty eight percent of the subjects delayed for more than one month. Patients' delays were strongly associated with first visit to non-formal health providers and self treatment (P < 0.0001). Prior attendance to a health post/clinic was associated with increased health systems' delay (p < 0.0001).
Conclusion
Delay in the diagnosis and treatment of PTB is unacceptably high in Amhara region. Health providers' and health systems' delays represent the major portion of the total delay. Accessing a simple and rapid diagnostic test for TB at the lowest level of health care facility and encouraging a dialogue among all health providers are imperative interventions.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-5-112
PMCID: PMC1326202  PMID: 16343350

Results 1-5 (5)