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Int J Tuberc Lung Dis. 2002 Nov;6(11):1012-6.

Is there a value of mantoux test and erythrocyte sedimentation rate in pre-employment screening of health care workers for tuberculosis in a high prevalence country?

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  • 1Department of Community Health Sciences, Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan.



Pre-employment screening of health care workers (HCWs) is practiced widely. Research needs to be carried out to evaluate the screening procedure in developing countries.


To evaluate the efficacy of Mantoux test and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) for the diagnosis of active tuberculosis (TB), in pre-employment screening of HCWs, in a high prevalence country.


Pre-employment screening of all new employees was reviewed from June to September 2000. The screening consisted of history, physical examination, blood and urine tests, Mantoux test and a chest radiograph. Patients with clinical, laboratory or radiological features suggestive of active TB were referred to a specialist.


Out of 207 employees, a Mantoux reaction of > or = 10 mm and ESR of > or = 25 mm/first hour was noted in 90 (43.5%) and 21 (10.1%), respectively. One person had symptoms suggestive of TB and was already on anti-tuberculosis therapy at the time of screening. All other employees were asymptomatic. Based on radiographic findings, four (2%) cases were referred and one was given anti-tuberculosis therapy. An additional 48 (23.1%) employees were referred on the basis of positive Mantoux or elevated ESR; none were found to have active TB.


In high prevalence countries use of Mantoux test and ESR in pre-employment screening of HCWs is not recommended for detection of active TB.

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