In Finland, asylum seekers from countries with high tuberculosis (TB) incidence (>?50/100,000 population/year) and those coming from a refugee camp or conflict area are eligible for TB screening. The aim of this study was to characterise the TB cases diagnosed during screening and estimate the yield of TB screening at the reception centres among asylum seekers, who arrived in Finland during 2015-2016.
Voluntary screening conducted at reception centres included an interview and a chest X-ray. Data on TB screening and health status of asylum seekers was obtained from the reception centres' national health register (HRS). To identify confirmed TB cases, the National Infectious Disease Register (NIDR) data of foreign-born cases during 2015-2016 were linked with HRS data. TB screening yield was defined as the percentage of TB cases identified among screened asylum seekers, stratified by country of origin.
During 2015-2016, a total of 38,134 asylum applications were received (57% were from Iraq, 16% from Afghanistan and 6% from Somalia) and 25,048 chest x-rays were performed. A total of 96?TB cases were reported to the NIDR among asylum seekers in 2015-2016; 94 (98%) of them had been screened. Screening identified 48 (50%) cases: 83% were male, 56% aged 18-34?years, 42% from Somalia, 27% from Afghanistan and 13% from Iraq. Furthermore, 92% had pulmonary TB, 61% were culture-confirmed and 44% asymptomatic. TB screening yield was 0.19% (48/25048) (95%CI, 0.14-0.25%) and it varied between 0 and 0.83% stratified by country of origin. Number needed to screen was 522.
TB screening yield was higher as compared with data reported from other European countries conducting active screening among asylum seekers. Half of the TB cases among asylum seekers were first suspected in screening; 44% were asymptomatic. TB yield varied widely between asylum seekers from different geographic areas.