The Yield of Community-Based “Retrospective” Tuberculosis Contact Investigation in a High Burden Setting in Ethiopia

Journal Article
  • Zewdu Gashu
  • Degu Jerene
  • Mitiku Ensermu
  • Dereje Habte
  • Muluken Melese
  • Nebiyu Hiruy
  • Endale Shibeshi
  • Shallo D. Hamusse
  • G. Nigussie
  • B. Girma
  • Yewulsew Kassie
  • Yared Kebede Haile
  • Pedro Suarez
Aug. 2016; 11 (8): e0160514. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0160514.



To determine the yield and determinants of retrospective TB contact investigation in selected zones in Ethiopia.

Materials and Methods

This was a community-based cross-sectional study conducted during June-October 2014.Trained lay providers performed symptom screening for close contacts of index cases with all types of TB registered for anti-TB treatment within the last three years. We used logistic regression to determine factors associated with TB diagnosis among the contacts.


Of 272,441 close contacts of 47, 021 index cases screened, 13,886 and 2, 091 had presumptive and active TB respectively. The yield of active TB was thus 768/100, 000, contributing 25.4% of the 7,954 TB cases reported from the study zones over the study period. The yield was highest among workplace contacts (12,650/100, 000). Active TB was twice more likely among contacts whose index cases had been registered for TB treatment within the last 12 months compared with those who had been registered 24 or more months earlier (adjusted odds ratio, AOR: 1.77 95% CI 1.42–2.21). Sex or clinical type of TB in index cases was not associated with the yield. Smear negative (SS-) index cases (AOR: 1.74 955 CI 1.13–2.68), having index cases who registered for treatment within <12 months (AOR: 2.41 95% CI 1.51–3.84) and being household contact (AOR: 0.072 95% CI 0.01–0.52) were associated with the occurrence of active TB in children.


The yield of retrospective contact investigation was about six times the case notification in the study zones, contributing a fourth of all TB cases notified over the same period. The yield was highest among workplace contacts and in those with recent past history of contact. Retrospective contact screening can serve as additional strategy to identify high risk groups not addressed through currently recommended screening approaches.