Tuberculosis risk among migrant farm workers on the Delmarva peninsula

M. L. Jacobson, M. A. Mercer, L. K. Miller, T. W. Simpson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


A survey was conducted to ascertain the risk of tuberculosis (TB) among migrant farm workers on the Delmarva peninsula. Relevant histories were obtained from 842 migrants: a total of 709 skin tests were completed, and 239 sputum specimens were examined for acid-fast bacilli (AFB) and culture. No cases of infectious tuberculosis were ascertained by history or AFB examination. One sputum culture was positive for M. tuberculosis and 13 were positive for various species of nontuberculous mycobacteria. Thirty-seven percent of migrants tested had significant skin test reactions of 10 mm or more. Reaction rates for men were 41 percent and for women 25 percent. Age specific rates ranged from 14 percent in children aged 5-14 to 54 percent for ages 45-54. Rates for the principal national/ethnic groups were Haitians 55 percent, Mexicans 36 percent, US Blacks 29 percent and US-born Latinos 20 percent. Based on these results and other information currently available, it is recommended that current Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations for TB prophylaxis continue to be applied for migrant workers, but that mass screening by skin testing in camp populations not be emphasized. Other recommendations focus on: case findings of active disease, improving continuity and follow-up, increasing coordination among involved agencies, and actively supporting improved economic and living conditions for migrant farm workers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-32
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1987
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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