Is there a value of mantoux test and erythrocyte sedimentation rate in pre-employment screening of health care workers for tuberculosis in a high prevalence country?

Document Type



Community Health Sciences


SETTING: Pre-employment screening of health care workers (HCWs) is practiced widely. Research needs to be carried out to evaluate the screening procedure in developing countries.Objective: To evaluate the efficacy of Mantoux test and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) for the diagnosis of active tuberculosis (TB), in pre-employment screening of HCWs, in a high prevalence country.Design: Pre-employment screening of all new employees was reviewed from June to September 2000. The screening consisted of history, physical examination, blood and urine tests, Mantoux test and a chest radiograph. Patients with clinical, laboratory or radiological features suggestive of active TB were referred to a specialist.Results: Out of 207 employees, a Mantoux reaction of > or = 10 mm and ESR of > or = 25 mm/first hour was noted in 90 (43.5%) and 21 (10.1%), respectively. One person had symptoms suggestive of TB and was already on anti-tuberculosis therapy at the time of screening. All other employees were asymptomatic. Based on radiographic findings, four (2%) cases were referred and one was given anti-tuberculosis therapy. An additional 48 (23.1%) employees were referred on the basis of positive Mantoux or elevated ESR; none were found to have active TB.CONCLUSION: In high prevalence countries use of Mantoux test and ESR in pre-employment screening of HCWs is not recommended for detection of active TB.


The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease