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October 6, 1989

Tuberculosis Among Migrant Farm Workers

JAMA. 1989;262(13):1775. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03430130049029

To the Editor.—  There were nearly 23 000 new cases of tuberculosis (TB) and more than 1600 TB deaths in the United States during 1987.1 Although potentially eradicable,2 TB remains endemic in disadvantaged US populations such as migrant farm workers.Previous studies have shown the prevalence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection to range from 37% to 48% among migrants working in Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia.3,4 We found an even higher prevalence of M tuberculosis infection among migrants in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, in 1988.

Study.—  For screening, we chose a convenience sample of migrants living in the two largest camps. Of the 138 camp residents, 78 (57%) were interviewed. Of the 78 interviewed, 5 (6%) had a history of TB or positive skin test results and were not tested. The remaining 73 migrants were given 5 U of purified protein derivative intradermally and were assessed 48 hours later for