High rates of drug-resistant TB among UK prisoners

Mar 16, 2010

UK prisoners are significantly more likely to have drug resistant TB than other people with the disease, suggests research published ahead of print in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

And one in four of TB cases fall through the healthcare net once they leave prison.

The researchers profiled the features of newly diagnosed adult cases reported to the national TB surveillance service for England and Wales between 2004 and 2007.

During this period, 29,340 cases of TB disease were reported, of which 205 were prison inmates.

An overseas birth is a known risk factor for TB. But prisoners with TB were almost twice as likely to be born in the UK rather than overseas - 47% vs 25% - compared with other TB patients.

And they were nine times more likely to be of black Caribbean ethnicity - 18% vs 2%. Three out of four also had TB disease in their lungs, compared with just over half (56%) of other TB patients.

Prisoners with TB in their lungs were significantly more likely to be infectious - 69% vs 57%.

Rates of drug resistant disease were also extremely high among prisoners. More than one in three (35%) had a strain of TB that was resistant to the drug normally prescribed as treatment - isoniazid.

This means that a minimum 4% of all drug resistant cases occurred in prisoners during this period, say the researchers, and among drug resistant cases born in the UK, 11% were known to be prisoners (25 out of 228 cases).

Prisoners also fare worse than other TB patients, the study shows: fewer than half completed their treatment within a year - 48% vs 80%.

And one in four of those still receiving treatment when they left prison fell through the healthcare net and did not get further check-ups. More than half of them (55%) had the drug resistant form of TB.

Compared with other TB patients, fewer prisoners died before they completed their treatment, but their average age at death was significantly lower - 48 compared with 70.

The authors warn that their figures are likely to underestimate the true prevalence of TB disease among UK prisoners as the study did not include former prisoners or those with latent/unreported infection.

"High rates of [TB], especially drug-resistant tuberculosis, among prisoners with low levels of successful treatment mean prisoners present a particular challenge for tuberculosis control," they say.

The authors acknowledge that moves are afoot to strengthen control of the disease in UK prisons, but they point out that prisoners are particularly vulnerable as their health is often already compromised by drug and alcohol problems, homelessness, and HIV infection.

Explore further: People with kidney disease show higher cancer risk in study

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

WHO warns of drug-resistant TB

Sep 06, 2006

The World Health Organization in Switzerland has warned of a new strain of tuberculosis that is rapidly spreading and cannot be treated with current drugs.

Drug-resistant tuberculosis rife in China

Dec 11, 2008

Levels of drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) in China are nearly twice the global average. Nationwide research published in the open access journal BMC Infectious Diseases has shown that almost 10% of Chinese TB cases are re ...

HIV/AIDS linked to drug resistant TB

Nov 16, 2006

U.S. scientists say a highly drug-resistant form of tuberculosis has been linked to HIV/AIDS in a study conducted in rural South Africa.

Drug-resistant TB on rise in Africa

Nov 10, 2006

Drug-resistant tuberculosis strains in Africa could kill millions of people and render useless expensive drugs protecting HIV-infected patients from TB.

Recommended for you

User comments : 0

More news stories

Rising role seen for health education specialists

(HealthDay)—A health education specialist can help family practices implement quality improvement projects with limited additional financial resources, according to an article published in the March/April ...

FDA proposes first regulations for e-cigarettes

The federal government wants to prohibit sales of electronic cigarettes to minors and require approval for new products and health warning labels under regulations being proposed by the Food and Drug Administration.

When things get glassy, molecules go fractal

Colorful church windows, beads on a necklace and many of our favorite plastics share something in common—they all belong to a state of matter known as glasses. School children learn the difference between ...

FCC to propose pay-for-priority Internet standards

The Federal Communications Commission is set to propose new open Internet rules that would allow content companies to pay for faster delivery over the so-called "last mile" connection to people's homes.

SK Hynix posts Q1 surge in net profit

South Korea's SK Hynix Inc said Thursday its first-quarter net profit surged nearly 350 percent from the previous year on a spike in sales of PC memory chips.

Brazil enacts Internet 'Bill of Rights'

Brazil's president signed into law on Wednesday a "Bill of Rights" for the digital age that aims to protect online privacy and promote the Internet as a public utility by barring telecommunications companies ...