Tuberculosis (TB) remains a public health threat in the United States, with as many as 14 million Americans infected with the bacteria. At any given time, members from this large pool of infected people can develop full-blown, highly contagious forms of the disease.
According to the World Health Organization, about one person dies of TB every 17 seconds, causing nearly 2 million deaths annually. The disease continues to be a contagious scourge in developing countries, and with the world shrinking rapidly due to global migration, it is a major public health threat in developed nations as well, including the United States. Each infected person represents a potential yet preventable future outbreak, WHO says. Testing for TB infection is necessary in order to quickly identify the appropriate persons for treatment and thereby prevent its spread.
New data from a meta-analysis of existing literature published this week in CHEST, the official journal of the American College of Chest Physicians, provide evidence supporting a new, scientifically-proven standard for detecting TB infection. The study demonstrates that Interferon Gamma Release Assays (IGRAs) are superior to the previous standard in diagnostics, the 100+-year-old tuberculin skin test (TST), for detecting confirmed active TB disease. This was especially true when the IGRAs -- both QuantiFERON®-TB Gold (QFT) and T-SPOT®-TB (T-Spot) -- were administered in developed countries.