Tuberculosis among correctional facility workers: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Prison inmates can transmit tuberculosis, including drug-resistant strains, to correctional facility workers and the community. In this systematic literature review, we investigated the magnitude of active and latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) and associated risk factors among correctional facility workers. 

We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, LILACS, Cochrane CENTRAL, ISI Web of Science, CINAHL, and SCOPUS databases (January 1, 1989-December 31, 2017) for studies with the MeSH terms “prison” (and similar) AND “tuberculosis”, without language restriction. We searched for gray literature in Google Scholar and conference proceedings. Stratified analyses according to tuberculosis burden were performed. 

Of the 974 titles identified, 15 (nine good, six fair quality) fulfilled the inclusion criteria (110,393 correctional facility workers; six countries; 82,668 active tuberculosis; 110,192 LTBI). Pooled LTBI prevalence and incidence rates were 26% (12-42, I2 = 99.0%) and 2% (1-3, I2 = 98.6%), respectively. LTBI prevalence reached 44% (12-79, I2 = 99.0%) in high-burden countries. Active tuberculosis was reported only in low-burden countries (incidence range, 0.61-450/10,000 correctional facility workers/year). LTBI-associated risk factors included job duration, older age, country of birth, current tobacco smoking, reported contact with prisoners, and BCG vaccination. 

Despite the risk of bias and high heterogeneity, LTBI was found to be prevalent in correctional facility workers, mainly in high-burden countries. LTBI risk factors suggest both occupational and community exposure. Active tuberculosis occurrence in low-burden countries suggests higher vulnerability from recent infection among correctional facility workers in these countries. Systematic surveillance and infection control measures are necessary to protect these highly vulnerable workers.