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The Infectivity of Pulmonary Tuberculosis in Korean Army Units: Evidence from Outbreak Investigations

Tuberculosis and Respiratory Diseases 2019년 82권 4호 p.298 ~ 305
 ( Yoon Chang-Gyo ) - Armed Forces Medical Command Department of Preventive Medicine

 ( Kang Dong-Yoon ) - Seoul National University College of Medicine Department of Preventive Medicine
 ( Jung Jae-Hun ) - Armed Forces Medical Command Department of Preventive Medicine
 ( Oh Soo-Yon ) - Korean Institute of Tuberculosis
 ( Lee Jin-Beom ) - Korean Institute of Tuberculosis
 ( Kim Mi-Hyun ) - Korean Institute of Tuberculosis
 ( Seo Youn-Suk ) - Korean Institute of Tuberculosis
 ( Kim Hee-Jin ) - Korean Institute of Tuberculosis


Background: Tuberculosis (TB) causes substantial health burden to the Korean military. This study aims to assess the impact of infectious TB cases on close and casual contacts in the Korean Army settings based on contact investigation data.

Methods: Six Army units with infectious TB cases from September 2012 to May 2013 were enrolled in the study. We analyzed the clinical data from close and casual contacts screened using the tuberculin skin test (TST) and QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube to identify latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) cases. For the control group, 286 military conscripts with no reported TB exposure were tested by TST only.

Results: Of the 667 contacts of index cases, LTBI cases identified were as follows: 21.8% of close contacts of smear-positive cases (71/326), 8.5% of casual contacts of smear-positive cases (26/305), and 2.8% of close contacts of smear-negative cases (1/36). In the control group, 16.8% showed positivity in TST. In a multivariate analysis, having stayed in the same room or next room with TB patients was identified as a risk factor of LTBI.

Conclusion: Using the data from TB contact investigations in the Korean Army units, we found an overall LTBI rate of 14.7% among the contacts screened. This study demonstrates that contacts living in the same building, especially the same room or next room, with TB patients are at a high risk of acquiring LTBI, serving as additional evidence for defining close and casual contacts of a TB patient with regard to Army barrack settings.


Tuberculosis; Asian Continental Ancestry Group; Disease Outbreaks; Military Personnel; Korea
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