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Thorax 68:263-268 doi:10.1136/thoraxjnl-2012-202208
  • Tuberculosis
  • Original article

Lower prevalence of tuberculosis infection in BCG vaccinees: a cross-sectional study in adult prison inmates

  1. Li-Min Huang3
  1. 1Third Division, Centers for Disease Control, Taipei, Taiwan
  2. 2Institute of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, College of Public Health, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan
  3. 3Department of Pediatrics, National Taiwan University Hospital, National Taiwan University College of Medicine, Taipei, Taiwan
  4. 4Guishan Township Health Station, Taoyuan County, Taiwan
  5. 5Department of Internal Medicine, Tao-Yuan General Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan
  6. 6Departments of Laboratory Medicine, National Taiwan University Hospital, National Taiwan University College of Medicine, Taipei, Taiwan
  7. 7Department of Internal Medicine, National Taiwan University Hospital, National Taiwan University College of Medicine, Taipei, Taiwan
  1. Correspondence to Dr Chi-Tai Fang, Institute of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, National Taiwan University, 17 Xu-Zhou Road, Taipei 100, Taiwan; fangct@ntu.edu.tw Dr. Li-Min Huang, Department of Pediatrics, National Taiwan University Hospital, 7 Chung-Shan South Road, Taipei 100, Taiwan; lmhuang@ntu.edu.tw
  • Received 28 May 2012
  • Revised 15 August 2012
  • Accepted 23 August 2012
  • Published Online First 27 September 2012

Abstract

Objectives To address whether the effect of BCG vaccination against tuberculosis (TB) infection lasts to adulthood.

Methods A cross-sectional study on the prevalence of latent TB infection (LTBI) among HIV-negative men, using QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-tube (QFT-IT), was conducted at a prison in northern Taiwan with >3000 inmates. A QFT-IT ≥0.35 IU/ml was defined as LTBI. A QFT-IT ≥0.7 IU/ml was defined as recent LTBI. The association between the number of BCG scars and LTBI stratified by age was analysed. The study procedure was approved by the institutional review board, and all participants gave written informed consent before receiving screening tests.

Results Among the 2385 participants, 25% had a QFT-IT ≥0.35 IU/ml. Increasing LTBI (14%, 32% and 50%) was observed with increased age (18–34 years, 35–54 years and ≥55 years) (p<0.001 by the Cochran–Armitage Trend Test). The number of BCG scars were found to be inversely correlated with QFT-IT results for both LTBI and recent LTBI in all three age groups (p<0.001 by Cochran–Mantel–Haenszel statistics).

Conclusions Our results suggest that BCG vaccine seems to have a protective effect in adults decades after vaccination according to the number of recent infections (QFT-IT ≥0.7 IU/ml). This finding has important implications for national policy of BCG vaccination. Further prospective cohort studies on the protective effect of BCG vaccination against TB infection in adults are warranted.