Tuberculosis risk in Australia: An epidemiological assessment of tuberculosis risk factors and the prevalence of tuberculosis among high risk groups

Dr Kerri Viney

RATIONALE: Australia reports approximately 1300 cases of tuberculosis (TB) per year and has a TB case notification rate of 5.5 cases per 100,000 population.[1] This rate has essentially remained unchanged since the mid-1980s, however a slight increase in rates has been observed since 2003.[1] TB is a notifiable disease in all Australian jurisdictions and as such, each jurisdiction collects a minimum dataset on each TB patient. These data are regularly transferred to the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System, which is maintained by the Commonwealth Department of Health.[2] Based on these data, the National TB Advisory Committee produces annual reports which describe the epidemiology of TB in the Australian population. While these reports are useful for informing policy and practice, the current reports do not critically assess a comprehensive range of risk factors that may be addressed in order to optimise TB prevention and care in the Australian context.[1] These risk factors include variables such as cigarette smoking, diabetes mellitus, homelessness and recent travel (in the past 2-5 years) to a TB endemic (>40/100 000 population) country.[3] Current annual reports also do not consider individual risk profiles or individuals who have multiple risk factors. Against the backdrop of the newly launched End TB Strategy[4] and national TB elimination targets, careful consideration of additional data is required to “know the local epidemic” and plan better-targeted public health interventions. The aim of this study is to identify and collect the most informative additional data so that Australian policy makers, clinicians and researchers can consider the risk profile of Australian TB patients when refining TB elimination policies and practices. This study will provide detailed insights into the characteristics of patients treated for TB across Australia.

 

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: The overarching aim of this cohort study is to better characterise the epidemiological profile, risk factors and management of TB patients to improve targeting and delivery of interventions necessary to achieve the elimination of TB in Australia.

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