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Ann Intern Med. 1992 Aug 1;117(3):251-3.

A leap of faith. What can we do to curtail intrainstitutional transmission of tuberculosis?

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Clinical Mycobacteriology Service, National Jewish Center for Immunology and Respiratory Medicine, Denver, CO 80206.


Large-scale, epidemic transmission of tuberculosis to patients, nonprofessional staff, nurses, and physicians has been documented recently in hospitals, clinics, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) residencies, and correctional facilities. Prominent factors in these outbreaks have included human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and AIDS, delayed diagnosis of tuberculosis, multidrug-resistant strains of tuberculosis that resulted in protracted shedding of mycobacteria, and ventilation patterns in buildings that resulted in the accumulation of infectious particles. Multiple deaths from tuberculosis have resulted. Various strategies, including vaccines, masks, augmented ventilation, air filters, and ultraviolet irradiation have been proposed to control this situation. Although no well-controlled studies exist to document the utility of any of these modalities, ultraviolet germicidal irradiation seems both the best theoretical model and the most practical tactic. Ultraviolet systems should be widely deployed throughout high-risk institutions.

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