Prevalence and incidence of symptomatic pulmonary tuberculosis based on repeated population screening in a district in Ethiopia: a prospective cohort study
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionBMJ Open. 2023, 13 (7), . 10.1136/bmjopen-2022-070594
Objective In Ethiopia, one-third of the estimated tuberculosis cases are not detected or reported. Incidence estimates are inaccurate and rarely measured directly. Assessing the ‘real’ incidence under programme conditions is useful to understand the situation. This study aimed to measure the prevalence and incidence of symptomatic pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) during 1 year in the adult population of Dale in Ethiopia. Design A prospective population-based cohort study. Setting Every household in Dale was visited three times at 4-month intervals. Participants Individuals aged ≥15 years. Outcome measures Microscopy smear positive PTB (PTB s+), bacteriologically confirmed PTB (PTB b+) by microscopy, GeneXpert, or culture and clinically diagnosed PTB (PTB c+). Results Among 136 181 individuals, 2052 had presumptive TB (persistent cough for 14 days or more with or without haemoptysis, weight loss, fever, night sweats, chest pain or difficulty breathing), in the first round of household visits including 93 with PTB s+, 98 with PTB b+ and 24 with PTB c+; adding those with PTB who were already on treatment, the total number of PTB was 201, and the prevalence was 147 (95% CI: 127 to 168)/100 000 population. Out of all patients with PTB, the proportion detected by symptom screening was in PTB s+ 65%, PTB b+ 67% and PTB c+44%. During 96 388 person-years follow-up, 1909 had presumptive TB, 320 had PTB and the total incidence of PTB was 332 (95% CI: 297 to 370)/100 000 person-years, while the incidence of PTB s+, PTB b+ and PTB c+ was 230 (95% CI: 201 to 262), 263 (95% CI: 232 to 297) and 68 (95% CI: 53 to 86)/100 000 person- years, respectively. Conclusion The prevalence of symptomatic sputum smear-positive TB was still high, only one-third of prevalent PTB cases notified and the incidence rate highest in the age group 25–34 years, indicating ongoing transmission. Finding missing people with TB through repeated symptom screening can contribute to reducing transmission.