A new study has found many South Asian immigrants from countries where tuberculosis (TB) is prominent are not tested despite being at high risk of developing the disease.
TB, which primarily affects the lungs, has killed more people around the world, than any other infectious disease.
The study was conducted by a team Rutgers University and St. Peter’s University Hospital. For the study, a survey was conducted on 463 adults who were born in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, the Maldives, Afghanistan or Sri Lanka.387 participants were born in high TB burden countries. They also often visited their birth countries. Over a span of four months, the team took note to understand the attitudes and health behaviours toward the disease. Data revealed only 54 percent of the group reported has having gotten tested for TB.
Through their investigation, researchers found a lot of South Asian immigrants who visit their home countries often have latent TB. However, they may not be unaware of it because they do not exhibit any symptoms of the disease. Researchers note latent TB is not infectious.
“Our work shows more needs to be done to screen and treat asymptomatic latent TB infections in our community, which is a new focus of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] as well,” studyauthor Sabah Kalyoussef, a clinical assistant professor at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and St. Peter’s University Hospital, told a news portal.
Close to 1.7 billion people have latent TB across the globe. Even though developed countries have a low incidence of TB, travellers or immigrants may give rise to more cases.
"An important step toward elimination of tuberculosis in the United States is identifying those with latent infection and treating those at high-risk for reactivation," Kalyoussef revealed. Adding "This study shows that more work needs to be done in the community and at the physician level about the risks of latent TB infection in the high-risk populations."
Researchers hope their findings encourage at-risk South Asian immigrants to be screened for latent TB infection in order to get the proper treatment.