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Prevalence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis antibodies in a healthy population in a South-Eastern State of Nigeria


Objective: To determine the seroprevalence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in apparently healthy residents of two densely-populated and model settlement nucleated towns of Akwakuma and Orji in Owerri North Local Government Area of Imo State, South Eastern Nigeria.
Methods: Antibodies to M. tuberculosis in human serum or plasma were qualitatively detected in four hundred and eighty individuals using the one step TB 1gG/1gM two sided-lateral flow chromatographic immunoassay.
Results: The prevalence of M. tuberculosis antibodies in the study population was 6.67%. However, the prevalence was significantly higher (p<0.05) in sera of inhabitants of Orji (8.33%) than in those of Akwakuma (5.56%). Generally, in both communities, the females were significantly (p<0.05) more sero-positive for M. tuberculosis antibodies (8.57%) than the males (4.0%). The antibodies were most prevalent (22.2%) in persons between the ages of 20 and 29 years. No M. tuberculosis antibody was detected in individuals that were in the 1-9, 30-39 and 50-59 year age groups. Amongst the study population, the bacterial antibodies were only detected in 25.0% of the males in Orji that were between 20 and 29 years. Comparatively, the antibodies were prevalent (16.7%) in female residents of Akwakuma that were within the 10-19 and 40-49 years age group.

Discussion: The high prevalence of M. tuberculosis in the study population is worrisome as the sero-positive individuals are not only at risk of having full blown tuberculosis later on, but are also a source of spreading the bacteria to the populace. Therefore, there is an urgent need for further epidemiological survey to be undertaken in the study area and, to initiate appropriate preventive and control measures (JPMA 58:8;2008).

Awujo N. Chinedu, Bibi Seema, Anyanwu O. Gladys

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