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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 1680-5348Print version ISSN 1020-4989


ARBELAEZ M., María Patricia et al. Evaluation of the response to tuberculin among university students in the health field. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2000, vol.8, n.4, pp.272-279. ISSN 1680-5348.

A cross-sectional study was done at the University of Antioquia, Medellín, Colombia, to evaluate the response to a tuberculin skin test among students in undergraduate health programs (medicine, odontology, nursing, and bacteriology) as compared to undergraduate students in nonhealth programs. The study included students from the beginning, middle, and end of the university's academic programs. The sample of 490 students included 273 from health programs and 217 from nonhealth programs. Participants were randomly selected using lists provided by the university registrar, for the second semester of 1998. The presence of a BCG vaccination scar was determined, and all the participants were also questioned about TB-related risk factors. Tuberculin skin test reactivity was evaluated by the size of induration 72 hours after intradermal injection of two tuberculin units of purified protein derivative RT 23. There were no differences in tuberculin reactivity between students from the health programs and from the nonhealth programs, irrespective of the academic level. However, there was a significantly higher proportion of positive skin tests among students with a BCG scar. These results suggest that undergraduate health students do not have extensive contact with TB patients or with clinical samples from such patients. Nevertheless, the results do not rule out TB as an occupational risk for health personnel.

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