Background: Tuberculosis (TB) recurrence can be due to reinfection or relapse. The contribution of each to TB incidence and the factors associated with recurrence are not well known. Effectiveness of TB control programs is assessed in part by recurrence rates. The aim of this study was to establish the recurrence rate of TB in Barcelona, the associated risk factors and the role of reinfection.
Methods: A population-based retrospective longitudinal study was performed in Barcelona, Spain. TB patients with positive culture results who completed treatment between Jan 1st, 2003 and Dec 31st, 2006 were followed-up until December 31st, 2009 by the TB Control Program. The incidence rate of recurrence was calculated per person-year of follow-up (py). Kaplan-Meier and Cox regression methods were used for the survival analysis by calculating the hazard ratio (HR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI).
Results: Of the 1,823 TB cases identified, 971 fulfilled the inclusion criteria and 13 (1.3%) had recurrent TB. The recurrence rate was 341 cases per 100,000 py, 13 times higher than the TB incidence of the general population. Likelihood of TB recurrence at the 1st, 3rd and 5th year of follow-up was 0.1%, 1.4% and 1.6%, respectively. Factors associated with recurrence were HIV infection (HR: 4.7, CI: 1.4–15.7), living in the inner city district (HR: 3.9, CI: 1.3–11.8) and history of TB treatment (HR: 5.2, CI: 1.7–16.2). Genotyping results of recurrent cases were available for 6 patients (3 reinfections and 3 relapses).
Conclusion: The rate of TB recurrence in Barcelona is low and most episodes occur within the first three years. Patients at higher risk of recurrence are co-infected with HIV, living in neighborhoods with high TB incidence or with a history of TB treatment. When available, genotyping results help determine whether the recurrence is due to reinfection or relapse (Authors).