Screening employees of services for homeless individuals in Montréal for tuberculosis infection
The results of a tuberculin skin test (TST) screening program offered to employees of services for homeless people in Montréal from 1998 to 2005 were analyzed to assess the occupational risk of tuberculosis (TB) infection. Employees with no known contact with TB were selected among volunteer participants. They were followed in two dynamic cohorts: individuals with a negative two-step baseline TST (cohort A) and individuals with a negative single baseline TST (cohort B). We estimated the prevalences of initial positive TST, boosting effect, and conversion rate. The average age of the workers was 38.9 years. The prevalence of an initial positive TST was 12.9%. A booster effect was observed in 5.1% of workers who completed a two-step TST. The incidence of conversion was 2.3/100 person-years for cohort A (n=93) and 3.5/100 person-years for cohort B (n=221). The incidence of conversion was not significantly associated with any of the demographics or workplace factors investigated. Our findings are comparable to the rates reported among community workers, whose risk is higher than the average health worker. This suggests that there are occasional unidentified contagious cases among the homeless individuals of participating institutions.
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