Countries where the incidence of Tuberculosis (TB) is low display a low transmission rate in the general population, and this rate has progressively declined in recent decades; however, TB epidemiology has shown a shift of the disease burden from the general population to specific populations at higher risk, such as vulnerable individuals and hard-to-reach groups. In low-incidence countries, preventive and therapeutic strategies must therefore be geared towards targeted interventions in these populations, with the priority being to promptly identify and treat latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) rather than manage infectious cases. One of the most complex challenges in this area is to identify population subgroups with increased incidence/prevalence of LTBI/TB.
The aim of this study was to provide a concise overview of the main studies and available evidence concerning the epidemiology of TB and LTBI in non-healthcare congregate settings, with specific emphasis on studies conducted in occupational settings and workplaces.
Recognizing settings at increased risk might contribute to eliminating TB in low-incidence countries, a challenge which requires tailored responses.
Occupational and preventive medicine has a major role to play in directing ad hoc policies and programs of LTBI surveillance. If TB is to be eradicated, it is essential to contain the seedbeds of infection: indeed, as long as a large reservoir of infected subjects exists, new active TB cases may arise at any time.
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