Clinicians should screen adults who are at increased risk but do not have symptoms of tuberculosis (TB), according to a “B” recommendation statement issued recently by the US Preventive Services Task Force (Task Force).1

The statement defines some of those people who may be at risk for latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI), including people who have lived in group settings where TB exposure is likely, or those people who resided or were born in countries with a high prevalence of TB, including Mexico, the Philippines, Vietnam, India, China, Haiti, and Guatemala. 

“The Task Force recommends that primary care clinicians screen adults at increased risk for LTBI to help prevent the progression to active TB,” Task Force member Francisco García, MD, MPH, director and chief medical officer of the Pima County Department of Health, Tucson, AZ, and professor of public health at the University of Arizona, said in a statement.2  “TB is a highly contagious, devastating disease. The best approach to prevention is identifying those populations at high risk for exposure as well as those individuals whose underlying medical disease may make them more susceptible to TB infection.”

Officials with the Task Force noted that there are effective detection tools, including the Mantoux tuberculin skin test and interferon-gamma release assays to help identify people who have TB, as well as effective treatments to prevent people from progressing from latent TB infection to active illness. 

References

1   US Preventive Services Task Force. US Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement: Screening for Latent Tuberculosis Infection in Adults. JAMA. 2016;316(9):962-969. 

2. US Preventive Services Task Force Recommends Screening for Latent Tuberculosis Infection in Adults at Increased Risk [USPSTF Bulletin]. Washington, D.C. US Preventive Services Task Force.