Tuberculosis Among Correctional Workers and Inmates in the United States

Ki Moon Bang, Centers for Disease Control

Tuberculosis (TB) is a public health concern in correctional facilities in the United States. This paper reviews the prevalence of new TB infection, active TB cases, and risk factors among correctional workers and inmates reported in the literature from 1990 to 2001. The increasing incidence of TB in incarcerated populations in various geographic locations has been observed in recent years. The tuberculin skin test positivity in correctional workers and inmates ranges from 6% to 38%. Correctional facilities have particular problems with transmission of TB, including multidrug-resistant strains. The spread of multidrug-resistant TB among prisoners in State prisons and City jails can provoke great concern for the employees of those institutions. Crowding and poor ventilation, combined with a particularly high-risk population (HIV infected), are associated with elevated risk of TB in the correctional facilitiers. Prisons and jails should fully implement infection control guidelines to prevent TB transmission. Based on this study, future need for effective strategies to prevent and control TB among correctional population is apparent. Recommendations for further research on TB prevention and control will be offered.

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Updated 05/20/2006