Results of a study of tuberculin conversion rates in primary school children in Ireland

  • J. M. Horgan
  • L. Daly
  • M. O’Boyle


THE objective of the study was to determine the natural tuberculin conversion rate in primary school children. Seventy-six percent of senior infants and 83 % of sixth class children enrolled in national schools in the academic year 1984/85 were included in the survey. Approximately two-thirds of both groups showed a BCG vaccination scar. Thirty-eight percent of scar present infants and 42% of scar present 6th class children were tuberculin positive Heaf grade 1 or greater. Among scar absent children 3.4% of the infants and 7% of the 6th class were tuberculin positive Heaf grade 1 or greater. For reasons detailed in the text, there are grounds for suspecting that the latter results are artificially inflated. The true figures for the natural conversion rate in unvaccinated children are likely to be of the order of 1.4% of infants and 4.7% of 6th class.

However interpreted, the survey points to a relatively low level of transmission of tuberculosis infection among primary school children and suggests the need to review BCG vaccination policy.


Primary School Child Misclassification Rate Unvaccinated Child Eastern Health Tuberculin Sensitivity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. 1.
    Report of Tuberculin Sub-Committee to the Research Committee of the British Tuberculosis Association. A single tuberculin test for epidemiological use: a comparison of the mantoux and heaf tests. Tubercle. (Lond.) 1959: 40, 317–335.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Anderson, S. R., Smith, M. H. The heaf multiple puncture tuberculin test. Am. J. Dis. Child. 1960: 99, 78/764–83/769.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    O’Hara, M. Personal communication. 1986.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Joint Tuberculosis Committee of the British Thoracic Society. Control and prevention of tuberculosis: a code of practice. Br. Med. J. 1983: 287, 1118–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Festenstein, F. Tuberculosis in hospital doctors. Br. Med. J. 1984: 289, 1327–28.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    O’Donnell, B. Personal Communication. 1985.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    World Health Organisation Expert Committee on Tuberculosis. Eighth Report. W.H.O. Tech. Rep. Ser. 1964: 290.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    World Health Organisation Expert Committee on Tuberculosis. Ninth Report. W.H.O. Tech. Rep. Ser. 1974: 552.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Styblo, K. Recent advances in epidemiological research in tuberculosis. Adv. Tuberc. Res. 1980: 20, 1–63.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Christie, P. N., Sutherland, I. A national tuberculin survey in Great Britain 1971–83. Bull. Int. Union Tuberc. 1976: 51, 185–90.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. M. Horgan
    • 1
    • 2
  • L. Daly
    • 1
    • 2
  • M. O’Boyle
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Community Medicine and EpidemiologyUniversity CollegeDublin
  2. 2.Community Care AreaSouth Eastern Health BoardWaterford

Personalised recommendations