Who Has Mycobacterial Disease? A Cross Sectional Study in Agropastoral Communities in Tanzania
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Objective: To determine and describe clinical symptoms, demographic characteristics and environmental exposures as determinants of pulmonary mycobacterial diseases among patients examined for tuberculosis in agropastoral communities in Northern Tanzania. Methods: This was a cross sectional study. Sputum samples were collected from patients attending three hospitals in Tanzania, and were investigated for pulmonary tuberculosis by microscopy between November 2010 and June 2012. The patients were interviewed about background information, and potential exposure to mycobacteria. Results: We examined 1,711 presumptive tuberculosis cases where 936 (54.2%) were males and 775 (45.3%) females. Of all the study participants, 277 (16%) were found to have sputum samples positive for mycobacteria; 228 (13%) were smear positive, 123 (7%) were culture positive and 74 (4%) were positive by both smear microscopy and culture. Of the 123 mycobacterial culture positive, 15 (12.2%) had non-tuberculous mycobacteria. Males were more likely than females to be positive for mycobacteria. Factors associated with mycobacterial disease were loss of appetite, age groups below 41 years, and being a male. Among HIV negative patients, loss of appetite, age below 20 years and being a male were associated with being mycobacterial positive. Among HIV positive patients, males and those patients with a persistently coughing family member were more likely to harbor mycobacteria. Conclusion: The findings in this study show that both M. tuberculosis and non-tuberculous mycobacterial strains were prevalent in the study community. Some risk factors were identified. Although the reported predictors may improve screening for mycobacterial diseases, their use requires some precaution.