Latent Tuberculosis Infection among Healthcare Students and Postgraduates in a Mediterranean Italian Area: What Correlation with Work Exposure?

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Background: Tuberculosis screening is part of the standard protocol for evaluating the risk of infection in healthcare workers. The aim of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) among students attending various healthcare profession degree courses and postgraduate medical courses at the School of Medicine of the University of Palermo, Italy, and assess the possible professional origin of infection. Methods: In total, 2946 students (2082 undergraduates and 864 postgraduates) took part in a screening program for LTBI between January 2014 to April 2019 using the tuberculin skin test (TST). Students with a positive TST result underwent a Quantiferon-TB test (QFT). Results: Among the 2082 undergraduates, 23 (1.1%) had a positiveTST;theresultwasconfirmedwithQFTfor13(0.62%)ofthem. Amongthe864postgraduate students,24(2.78%)hadapositiveTSTandonly18(2.08%)showedapositiveQTF.Latenttuberculosis infectionsweresignificantlymorefrequentamongpostgraduatesthanundergraduates(2.08% > 0.62%, p < 0.0001). There was a higher number of subjects previously vaccinated for TB (18.87% > 0.24%, p < 0.0001), and of vaccinated subjects found positive for TST and QTF (66.67% > 7.69%, p = 0.001) in the postgraduate group. Conclusion: Latent TB is relatively low among medical school students in our geographic area. Nevertheless, this infectious disease must be regarded as a re-emerging biohazard for which preventive strategies are required to limit the risk of infection, especially among exposed workers.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)137-149
Numero di pagine13
RivistaInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2020


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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