(HealthDay News) — Implementation of a culture-based screening algorithm in 2007 reduced the incidence of tuberculosis (TB) among immigrants and refugees bound for the United States, according to a study published in the March 17 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Yecai Liu, from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues examined the effect of the culture-based algorithm, implemented in 2007, for preventing the importation of TB to the United States by immigrants and refugees from foreign countries.

The researchers found that 51.4% of the 3,212,421 arrivals of immigrants and refugees from 2007–2012 were screened by the smear-based algorithm and 48.6% were screened by the culture-based algorithm. More than half (54.4%) of the 4,032 TB cases diagnosed by the culture-based algorithm were smear-negative/culture-positive. The annual number of reported cases among foreign-born persons within one year of arrival was relatively constant before implementation (2002–2006; mean, 1,504 cases), and deceased during implementation (from 1,511 to 940 in 2007–2012). During the same period, there was an increase in the annual number of smear-negative/culture-positive TB cases diagnosed overseas among immigrants and refugees bound for the United States, from four to 629.

“Implementation of the culture-based algorithm may have substantially reduced the incidence of TB among newly arrived, foreign-born persons in the United States,” the authors write.

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