Experienced and perceived risks of mycobacterial diseases: A cross sectional study among agropastoral communities in northern Tanzania
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Objective The current study was conducted to assess experienced risk factors and perceptions of mycobacterial diseases in communities in northern Tanzania. Methods We conducted a cross-sectional study in Arusha and Manyara regions in Northern Tanzania. We enrolled tuberculosis (TB) patients attending Mount Meru Hospital, Enduleni Hospital and Haydom Lutheran Hospitals in Arusha municipality, Ngorongoro and Mbulu districts, respectively. Patient addresses were recorded during their first visit to the hospitals. Patients with confirmed diagnosis of TB by sputum smear microscopy and/or culture at central laboratory were followed up and interviewed using pre-tested questionnaires, and selected relatives and neighbors were also interviewed. The study was conducted between June 2011 and May 2013. Results The study involved 164 respondents: 41(25%) were TB patients, 68(41.5%) were their relatives and 55(33.5%) their neighbors. Sixty four (39%) knew a risk factor for mycobacterial disease. Overall, 64(39%) perceived to be at risk of mycobacterial diseases. Exposure to potential risks of mycobacterial diseases were: keeping livestock, not boiling drinking water, large family, smoking and sharing dwelling with TB patients. Rural dwellers were more often livestock keepers (p<0.01), more often shared dwelling with livestock (p<0.01) than urban dwellers. More primary school leavers reported sharing dwelling with TB patients than participants with secondary and higher education (p = 0.01). Conclusion Livestock keeping, sharing dwelling with livestock, sharing household with a TB patient were perceived risk factors for mycobacterial diseases and the participants were exposed to some of these risk factors. Improving knowledge about the risk factors may protect them from these serious diseases.