Study finds taking country of birth into account could improve TB control measures

A team of Australian researchers recently found that health officials might be able to more strategically implement control measures for tuberculosis by taking country of birth in local areas into account.

The study, published on Tuesday in the journal BMC Public Health, was meant to test a novel approach to identify local areas in an Australian state that has higher rates of TB given the local areas' country of birth profiles. Researchers used TB notification data from 2006 to 2008 that was analyzed by grouping the population by high-incidence country of birth, BioMedCentral reports.

In many low incidence countries such as the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Canada and Australia, higher rates of TB are reported in recent immigrants, particularly those from high-incidence countries. Determining if local areas have higher TB rates based on country of origin would allow the researchers to conduct further focused epidemiological studies.

The research team found that of 1,401 notified TB cases in New South Wales during the study period, 76.5 percent were born in a high-incidence country. The TB notification rate for the group from a high-incidence country of birth was 61.2 per 100,000 population. The notification rate for the rest of the population was 1.8 per 100,000 population.

The researchers determined that applying this novel approach to public health could improve TB treatment, BioMedCentral reports.

"Analyzing local area TB rates and possible explanatory variables can provide useful insights into the epidemiology of TB," the researchers said, according to BioMedCentral. "TB notification rates that take country of birth in local areas into account could enable health services to strategically target TB control measures."