Prison TB spreading the disease in the general population

According to researchers in Italy and Britain, the high incidence and spread of tuberculosis in prisons leads to a higher number of tuberculosis cases in the general population and better prison care could lead to fewer general cases.

The research, lead by Iacopo Baussano and his colleagues at the University Amedeo Avogadro in Italy and the Imperial College London, compiled data from the World Health Organization and previous studies, UPI reports. They found that, on average, the incidence of TB in prison was 23 times worse than that of the general population.

Latent TB, in which the disease does not show symptoms but is still present in a person’s system, had a 26 times higher rate in prison than in the general population, according to UPI.

The authors estimate that one in 11 cases of TB in the general population is a result of the within-prison spread of the disease.

“These data may prove useful to inform the development of rational policies to control TB transmission in correctional facilities,” the study’s authors wrote, according to UPI. “Future studies should assess the population attributable risk of prison-to-community spread and describe the conditions that influence TB transmission.”

The study was published in the PLoS Medicine journal.

Tuberculosis is caused by strains of bacteria and can be spread through the air when people who have the condition sneeze, cough or spit.