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Revista de Saúde Pública

Print version ISSN 0034-8910


MOREIRA, Tiago Ricardo; ZANDONADE, Eliana  and  MACIEL, Ethel Leonor Noia. Risk of tuberculosis infection among community health agents. Rev. Saúde Pública [online]. 2010, vol.44, n.2, pp.332-338. ISSN 0034-8910.

OBJECTIVE: To estimate the risk of tuberculosis infection among community health agents involved in disease control. METHODS: A prospective cohort was followed up from April 2007 to May 2008 in the municipality of Cachoeiro de Itapemirim, Southeastern Brazil. The cohort was composed of 61 community agents, divided between unexposed individuals (n = 37) and exposed individuals (who were following up tuberculosis patients; n = 24). Over the 12-month follow-up, the tuberculin test was performed, using the tuberculin PPD RT23. The relative risk and 95% confidence interval were calculated, and the correlation between tuberculin response and the agents' occupational history was evaluated by means of Pearson's correlation. RESULTS: The incidence of the response was 41.7% in the exposed group and 13.5% in the unexposed group. The annual risk of infection was 52.8% in the exposed group and 14.4% in the unexposed group (p = 0.013). An association between tuberculin response and exposure to patients with tuberculosis was observed (RR = 3.08; 95% CI: 1.201;7.914). CONCLUSIONS: The agents who followed up tuberculosis patients during their routine work presented a greater risk of infection than did those who were not following up such patients. Implementation of routine administrative biosafety measures, among which the tuberculin test, should be prioritized, given the high risk of acquiring tuberculous infection among community health agents.

Keywords : Tuberculosis [nursing]; Caregivers; Exposure to Biological Agents; Occupational Exposure; Occupational Risks; Community Health Centers.

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