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Respiration. 1995;62(6):336-40.

Incidence of tuberculosis in Greek armed forces from 1965-1993.

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Medical School University of Crete, Heraklion, Greece.


Studies investigating the epidemiology of tuberculosis in Greece are lacking. Tuberculosis (TB) continues to be a public health problem and its dimensions are not clearly defined. The aim of this study was to estimate the incidence of pulmonary and pleural TB in each of the three branches of military personnel serving in the Greek armed forces, during the period 1965-1993. All military personnel with confirmed pulmonary or pleural TB during the period 1965-1993 were studied retrospectively. The age of the patients ranged from 18-45 years. A significant number of TB patients were detected by the regular chest radiography screening using mass miniature radiography during enrollment. The diagnosis of TB was made both by clinical and paraclinical examinations, such as history, symptoms, physical examination, tuberculin skin reactivity, chest X-ray and/or computed tomography of the thorax, bronchoscopy, microbiological examination of specimens (sputum, washings, bronchoalveolar lavage) as well as histological and bacteriological examination of the biopsies. We found that during the period studied, 4,628 patients were hospitalised for TB, 3,588 for pulmonary TB, and 1,040 for TB pleuritis (3,781 in the army, 445 in the navy and 402 in the air force). In 1965, the incidence (per 100,000) of TB (pulmonary and pleural) in the army was 60, in the navy 50, and in the air force 30. This incidence increased gradually from 1965 to 1980, followed by a decrease, since BCG vaccination became obligatory in 1980; values in 1993 were 18 in the army, 25 in the navy, and 15 in the air force. These figures are significantly higher than those reported for the civilian population, probably due to underreporting in the latter. Our results suggest that the incidence of TB in the Greek armed forces, although still high, is declining steadily. Strengthening of the anti-TB campaign is indicated.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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