Tuberculosis transmission risk and infection control in a hospital emergency department in Lima, Peru

A. Rod Escombe, L. Huaroto, E. Ticona, M. Burgos, I. Sanchez, L. Carrasco, E. Farfán, F. Flores, D. A.J. Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Overcrowded emergency departments (EDs) are used by undiagnosed tuberculosis (TB) patients. TB infection control measures are seldom prioritised, making EDs potential foci of unrecognised nosocomial transmission. OBJECTIVE: To quantify TB infection risk among health care workers in an ED in a high TB-burden setting, Lima, Peru, and to evaluate TB infection control measures. METHODS: Consenting ED staff were tested for TB infection at baseline and after 1 year using the Quanti-FERON® -TB Gold In-Tube (QFT-G). In parallel, sputum for TB culture was requested from patients spending >2 h in the ED, irrespective of presenting complaint. Infection control measures were documented and room ventilation measured. RESULTS: Over 1 year, there were 2246 TB patient-hours of exposure in the ED from 153 different patients. At baseline, 56% of the 70 staff recruited were QFT-G-positive; 27 of 31 baseline-negatives consented to follow-up after 1 year, and eight (30%, all clinical staff) tested positive. Annual incidence of infection was 1730 per 100 000 population. TB infection control measures were sub-optimal, with no patient screening, no isolation rooms, inadequate ventilation and sporadic respirator use. CONCLUSIONS: ED staff were exposed to an unexpectedly large TB burden in the workplace, resulting in a high rate of TB infection. TB infection control should be prioritised in EDs, especially in high-prevalence settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1120-1126
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Infection control
  • Nosocomial transmission
  • Occupational tuberculosis
  • Tuberculosis


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