Boosting of tuberculin sensitivity among Southeast Asian refugees

American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine
G M CauthenIda M Onorato

Abstract

Following an initial negative Mantoux tuberculin skin test, a second test, given as soon as 1 wk later, has been shown to elicit markedly larger reactions (boosting) in 20 to 40% of refugees tested in the United States. We conducted a study to determine the explanation for this phenomenon. Using the Mantoux method of intradermal skin testing, 2,469 refugees from Southeast Asia were initially tested with tuberculin followed by sequential retesting 7 and/or 90 d later. They were also tested initially with nontuberculous mycobacterial antigens. A high proportion (35.5%) of Southeast Asian refugees had reactions (> or = 10 mm induration) to an initial tuberculin test, and 30.9% of the nonreactors exhibited boosting on a subsequent tuberculin test. Boosting, unlike reactivity to the initial tuberculin test, was not associated with exposure to a person with tuberculosis. However, boosting was associated with reactivity to nontuberculous mycobacterial antigens and a history of bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination. Boosting in this population is therefore attributable to environmental exposure to nontuberculous mycobacteria that are endemic in Southeast Asia or to BCG vaccination, rather than to remote infection with Mycobacterium...Continue Reading

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Related Concepts

BCG Vaccine
Environmental Exposure
Revaccination
Mycobacterium Infections
Refugee Camps
Tuberculin Test
Log-Linear Models
Logistic Regression

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