High Prevalence of Active and Latent Tuberculosis in Children and Adolescents in Tibetan Schools in India: The Zero TB Kids Initiative in Tibetan Refugee Children

Kunchok Dorjee, Sonam Topgyal, Chungdak Dorjee, Tenzin Tsundue, Tenzin Namdol, Tenzin Tsewang, Tenzin Nangsel, Dekyi Lhadon, Tsering Choetso, Tenzin Dawa, Tenzin Phentok, Andrea Deluca, Lobsang Tsering, Dawa Phunkyi, Tsetan D. Sadutshang, Elizabeth J Bonomo, Zorba Paster, Richard E Chaisson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Tuberculosis (TB) prevalence is high among Tibetan refugees in India, with almost half of cases occurring in congregate facilities, including schools. A comprehensive program of TB case finding and treatment of TB infection (TBI) was undertaken in schools for Tibetan refugee children. Methods: Schoolchildren and staff in Tibetan schools in Himachal Pradesh, India, were screened for TB with an algorithm using symptoms, chest radiography, molecular diagnostics, and tuberculin skin testing. Individuals with active TB were treated and those with TBI were offered isoniazid-rifampicin preventive therapy for 3 months. Results: From April 2017 to March 2018, we screened 5391 schoolchildren (median age, 13 years) and 786 staff in 11 Tibetan schools. Forty-six TB cases, including 1 with multidrug resistance, were found in schoolchildren, for a prevalence of 853 per 100 000. Extensively drug-resistant TB was diagnosed in 1 staff member. The majority of cases (66%) were subclinical. TBI was detected in 930 of 5234 (18%) schoolchildren and 334 of 634 (53%) staff who completed testing. Children in boarding schools had a higher prevalence of TBI than children in day schools (915/5020 [18%] vs 15/371 [4%]; P <. 01). Preventive therapy was provided to 799 of 888 (90%) schoolchildren and 101 of 332 (30%) staff with TBI; 857 (95%) people successfully completed therapy. Conclusions: TB prevalence is extremely high among Tibetan schoolchildren. Effective active case finding and a high uptake and completion of preventive therapy for children were achieved. With leadership and community mobilization, TB control is implementable on a population level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberciy987
Pages (from-to)760-768
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Infectious Diseases
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Aug 16 2019



  • case finding
  • pediatrics
  • preventive therapy
  • Tibet
  • tuberculosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases

Cite this