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Symptom-based screening of child tuberculosis contacts: improved feasibility in resource-limited settings.
Pediatrics. 2008 Jun; 121(6):e1646-52.OBJECTIVE: National tuberculosis programs in tuberculosis-endemic countries rarely implement active tracing and screening of child tuberculosis contacts, mainly because of resource constraints. We aimed to evaluate the safety and feasibility of applying a simple symptom-based approach to screen child tuberculosis contacts for active disease. METHODS: We conducted a prospective observational study from January through December 2004 at 3 clinics in Cape Town, South Africa. All of the children <5 years old in household contact with an adult tuberculosis source case were assessed by documenting current symptoms and tuberculin skin test and chest radiograph results. RESULTS: During the study period, 357 adult tuberculosis cases were identified; 195 cases (54.6%) had sputum smear and/or culture positive results and were in household contact with children aged <5 years. Complete information was available for 252 of 278 children; 176 (69.8%) were asymptomatic at the time of screening. Tuberculosis treatment was administered to 33 (13.1%) of 252; 27 were categorized as radiologically "certain tuberculosis," the majority (n = 22) of which had uncomplicated hilar adenopathy. The negative predictive value of symptom-based screening varied according to the case definition used, with 95.5% including all of the children treated for tuberculosis and 97.1% including only those with radiologically "certain tuberculosis." CONCLUSIONS: Our findings support current World Health Organization recommendations, demonstrating that symptom-based screening of child tuberculosis contacts should improve feasibility in resource-limited settings and seems to be safe.