Delayed tuberculin reactivity in persons of Indochinese origin: Implications for preventive therapy

J. M. Robertson, D. S. Burtt, K. L. Edmonds, P. L. Molina, C. I. Kiefe, J. J. Ellner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Objectives: To 1) study a variant delayed reaction to tuberculin testing as a way to enhance screening for tuberculosis among high-risk persons and 2) correlate the delayed reaction with lymphocyte blastogenesis. Design: Cross- sectional study. Setting: 2 public health department clinics in North Carolina. Participants: 121 adults who had recently emigrated from Vietnam to North Carolina and who were ethnic Vietnamese and ethnic Dega, a minority population group from the central highlands region of Vietnam. Measurements: Medical history, physical examination, laboratory evaluation, and standard purified protein derivative (PPD) testing (Mantoux method). Skin test results were read at 72 hours and again at 6 days. Variant reactivity was defined as induration of less than 10 mm at 72 hours that, when reassessed at 6 days, had increased in size to 10 mm or greater. Persons with negative (n = 54) and variant (n = 32) PPD results also had booster testing at 10 to 12 weeks. Serum samples were obtained from 57 participants for lymphocyte blastogenesis studies. Results: 26% of participants had variant tuberculin reactivity. Variant reactivity was strongly associated with booster positivity: Sixty- five percent of persons with variant PPD results had booster positivity compared with 16% of persons with negative PPD results (P <0.001). The lymphocyte blastogenesis response of persons with variant PPD results was between the response of persons with negative PPD results and that of persons with positive PPD results. Conclusions: Variant reactivity in this high-risk group was a predictor of booster positivity. Together with the blastogenic response pattern, this association strongly suggests that variant reactivity has a high positive predictive value for tuberculous infection. Clinicians should incorporate these findings into their approach for choosing candidates for preventive therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)779-784
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Internal Medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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