Tuberculosis (TB) is a potential occupational hazard for health care workers. This is especially true if basic infection control measures are not enforced. Our objective was to determine the rate of TB among health care workers at the Tijuana General Hospital during a five year period.
Retrospective study including all the cases of TB diagnosed among personnel of the hospital during the period of 1 January 1998 and 31 December 2003. The hospital is a 140-bed facility, that admits 77.6 +- 12.2 new TB cases per year. Diagnosis was based on culture isolation of Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
The mean number of employees per year at the hospital during that 5-year period was 819 +- 21.7. Eighteen new cases of TB were diagnosed among them, for an overall rate of 439.5 per 100,000; this was 10.9 times higher than the rate for the general population of the city. The rate for physicians was 860.2 per 100,000, 365.8 per 100,000 for nurses, and 1,846.1 per 100,000 for physicians in training. This last group had a higher risk of TB than physicians (2.14, CI95% 1.3, 35.6) and nurses (5.04, CI95% 3.1, 83.3). The isolated strain was drug resistant in three cases (16.6% of the cases), one of them multidrug resistant (isoniazid, rifampin and pirazinamide).
TB rate for the health workers at the Tijuana General Hospital is extremely high in comparison with that of the general population; this risk includes the transmission of drug resistant strains.
Even in developing countries many of the most common factors contributing to tuberculosis transmission can be eliminated with simple and inexpensive control measures. The implementation of basic control measures is an urgent priority to reduce this occupational hazard at our institution.
R. Laniado-Laborin, None.