Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. Recommendations for reducing risk during travel for healthcare and humanitarian work

Barbara J. Seaworth*, Lisa Y. Armitige, Naomi E. Aronson, Daniel F. Hoft, Michael E. Fleenor, Adrian F. Gardner, Drew A. Harris, Rachel L. Stricof, Edward A. Nardell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Healthcare and humanitarian workers who travel to work where the incidence of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR TB) is high and potential transmission may occur are at risk of infection and disease due to these resistant strains. Transmission occurs due to inadequate transmission control practices and the inability to provide timely and accurate diagnosis and treatment of persons with MDR TB. Patients risk exposure if active TB is unrecognized in workers after they return to lower-risk settings. Guidance for risk reduction measures for workers in high-risk areas is limited, and no studies confirm the efficacy of treatment regimens for latent TB infection due to MDR TB. Bacille Calmette-Gúerin (BCG) vaccination decreases the risk of active TB and possibly latent infection. IFN-γ release assays differentiate TB infection from BCG vaccination effect. Aseries of risk reduction measures are provided as a potential strategy. These measures include risk reductions before travel, including risk assessment, TB screening, education, respirator fit testing, and BCG vaccination. Measures during travel include use of respirators in settings where this may not be common practice, transmission control practices, triaging of patients with consistent symptoms, providing education for good cough etiquette, and provision of care in well-ventilated areas, including open air areas. Risk reduction measures after return include TB screening 8 to 10 weeks later and recommendations for management of latent TB infection in areas where the likelihood of MDR TB exposure is high.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)286-295
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of the American Thoracic Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Bacille calmette-gúerin
  • Extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis
  • Healthcare personnel
  • Humanitarian
  • Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis


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