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May 5, 1993

Association of Tuberculosis Infection With Increased Time in or Admission to the New York City Jail System

Author Affiliations

From the Montefiore Medical Center, Rikers Island Health Service, East Elmhurst, NY (Drs Bellin and Safyer and Mr Fletcher), and the University Hospital for the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, NY (Drs Bellin and Safyer).

JAMA. 1993;269(17):2228-2231. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03500170058034

Objective.  —To establish the association between time spent in jail or number of jail admissions and development of tuberculosis in a cohort of inmates incarcerated without evidence of tuberculosis infection on entry.

Design.  —Nested case-control design within a prospective cohort. A cohort of 2636 tuberculin skin test—negative inmates incarcerated in 1985 was matched against the Tuberculosis Registry of New York City. Each case of tuberculosis reported prior to May 15,1992, was assigned to three randomly selected controls from the cohort. We determined time spent in jail by reviewing the computer records of the New York City Inmate Information System. Conditional logistic regression modeling was performed to establish the association of jail time with the development of tuberculosis.

Setting.  —New York City Jail.

Results.  —Sixty inmates developed tuberculosis by May 15, 1992. Eighty-five percent of these had pulmonary tuberculosis. Univariate analysis identified the number of jail admissions (P=.02), age greater than or equal to 30 years (P=.001), and assignment to a methadone detoxification unit (P=.001) as significant in predicting tuberculosis. Multivariate modeling identified these same variables and jail time as significant. One year of jail time increased the odds of tuberculosis to 2.2 (95% confidence interval, 1.1 to 4.4).

Conclusion.  —The demonstrated association between jail time or jail admissions and development of tuberculosis suggests that the New York City jail system may be an important amplification point in the ongoing tuberculosis epidemic, deserving significant public health attention.(JAMA. 1993;269:2228-2231)