Overseas tuberculosis (TB) screening of immigrants and refugees saved U.S. taxpayers $15 million in medical costs, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The number of immigrants and refugees who tested negative for TB while abroad and developed TB after arriving in the U.S. also fell, from 7% to 1–2% of the total number of TB patients.

In 2007, the CDC implemented the Culture and Directly Observed Therapy (DOT) Tuberculosis Technical Instructions that are included in the technical instructions for panel physicians approved to perform medical screening examinations on all U.S. immigration applicants and refugees prior to their arrival in the U.S. The use of directly observed therapy (DOT) is also required, wherein healthcare professionals administer and document all doses of medicine during the treatment course. By July 2012, about 75% of immigrants and refugees coming to the U.S. were being screened using these instructions.

RELATED: Infectious Disease Resource Center

More than 1,100 cases of TB were detected by panel physicians in 2012; this includes 14 cases of multidrug-resistant (MDR) TB. Prior to the 2007 changes, 61.2% (n=674) of these patients would have had their TB undetected prior to arrival in the U.S. Because TB treatment for immigrants and refugees is primarily funded by U.S. public health departments, the CDC estimates that these detected cases saved $15 million that would have been paid for with U.S. taxpayer dollars.

For more information call (800) 232-4636 or visit CDC.gov.