BACKGROUND: Tuberculosis (TB) screening programmes among asylum seekers tend to focus on chest radiography (CXR) for early diagnosis, whereas knowledge on sputum examination is limited. We evaluated active TB screening using CXR and sputum culture among asylum seekers arriving in Denmark. In addition, we assessed the coverage of a voluntary health assessment.
METHODS: Between 1 February 2017 and 31 March 2019, all newly arrived asylum seekers in Denmark ≥ 18 years from TB high-incidence countries or risk groups, who attended a voluntary general health assessment, were offered active TB screening with CXR and spot sputum examination. Sputum samples were examined by culture and smear microscopy.
RESULTS: Coverage of the general health assessment was 65.1%. Among 1,154 referred for active TB screening, 923 (80.0%) attended. Of these, 854 were screened by CXR and one case of active TB was identified equivalent to a yield of 0.12%. Sputum samples were collected from 758 and one M. tuberculosis culture-positive TB case (also identified by CXR) was identified, equivalent to a yield of 0.13%. No cases were found by sputum culture screening only. In addition, screening found three cases of malignant disease.
CONCLUSION: We suggest that TB screening should focus on asylum seekers from TB high-incidence countries. Furthermore, early health assessments should be of high priority to ensure migrant health.