Tuberculosis screening in migrant reception centers: Results of a 2009 Italian survey

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Tuberculosis (TB) is a social disease that is common in immigrants who are forced to live in difficult circumstances. In Italy, the guidelines for preventing TB include X-ray screening and application of the Mantoux test for migrants from high–TB-endemic countries as soon as possible after admission to Italy. This article describes a field survey conducted in the reception center for asylum seekers in Bari Palese in southern Italy following the death of a center resident from pulmonary TB.


A Mantoux screening test, followed by chest X-ray, was carried out in March 2009 on 982 immigrants, representing 97.5% of the residents of the center.


A positive Mantoux test result was seen in 60.7% of the residents screened. The chest X-rays were performed on 92.9% of cuti-positive patients and on cuti-negative patients who were recent contacts of the deceased TB case and/or with symptoms suspicious for TB. Eight residents were diagnosed with active TB (0.8% of residents), and 117 residents (11.9%) had TB sequelae. In our survey, the Mantoux test demonstrated 88% sensitivity, 17% specificity, and a positive predictive value of 1% for active TB.


The survey results suggest that residents in asylum centers are a special type of immigrant. Specific risk factors, such as overcrowding, may expose these residents to a greater risk for infectious diseases.

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