The prevalence of latent tuberculosis infection in the United States

James D. Mancuso*, Jeffrey M. Diffenderfer, Bijan J. Ghassemieh, David J. Horne, Tzu Cheg Kao

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Rationale: Individuals with latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) represent a reservoir of infection, many of whom will progress to tuberculosis (TB) disease. A central pillar of TB control in the United Statesisreducingthisreservoirthroughtargetedtestingandtreatment. Objectives: To estimate the prevalence of LTBI in the United States using the tuberculin skin test (TST) and an IFN-g release assay. Methods: We used nationally representative data from the 2011-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (n = 6,083 aged >6 yr). LTBI was measured by both the TST and QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube test (QFT-GIT). Weighted population, prevalence, and multiple logistic regression were used. Measurements and Main Results: The estimated prevalence of LTBI in 2011-2012 was 4.4% as measured by the TST and 4.8% by QFT-GIT, corresponding to 12,398,000 and 13,628,000 individuals, respectively. Prevalence declined slightly since 2000 among the U.S. born but remained constant among the foreign born. Earlier birth cohorts consistently had higher prevalence than more recent ones. Higher risk groups included the foreign born, close contact with a case of TB disease, and certain racial/ethnic groups. Conclusions: After years of decline, the prevalence of LTBI remained relatively constant between 2000 and 2011. A large reservoir of 12.4 million still exists, with foreign-born persons representing an increasingly larger proportion of this reservoir (73%). Estimates and risk factors for LTBI were generally similar between the TST and QFT-GIT. The updated estimates of LTBI and associated risk groups can help improve targeted testing and treatment in the United States.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)501-509
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - 15 Aug 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • IFN-g release tests
  • Latent tuberculosis
  • Nutrition survey
  • Tuberculin test
  • Tuberculosis epidemiology


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