Volume 99, Issue 6
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



Tuberculosis (TB) prevalence among incarcerated populations is as much as 1,000 times higher than in the general population. This study evaluates whether correctional facilities serve as a reservoir through which TB is transmitted to surrounding communities. Tuberculosis test data were extracted from the South African National Health Laboratory Service database for patients tested for TB between 2005 and 2011. We conducted graphical analysis to assess the relationship of TB rates between incarcerated and non-incarcerated populations over time. We performed generalized linear modeling with a log link function to assess TB risk in communities surrounding correctional facilities, net of confounders. We assessed linkages between incarcerated and non-incarcerated populations over time using Granger causality analysis. Tuberculosis prevalence among incarcerated populations was four times higher than in the general population. Tuberculosis incidence rates in incarcerated and non-incarcerated populations followed similar trends over time. The presence of a correctional facility in a municipality was associated with 34.9% more detected TB cases (confidence interval: 11.6–63.2; < 0.01), controlling for potential confounders. Detected TB in incarcerated populations did not have predictive power in explaining detected TB rates in the non-incarcerated population after controlling for serial correlation in the time series data. Despite high TB prevalence, trends in correctional facilities do not appear to be driving temporal trends in the general population. However, correctional facilities still act as a TB reservoir that raises the overall TB risk in the vicinity. Intensified TB control policies for correctional facilities, formerly incarcerated individuals, and surrounding communities will reduce TB prevalence overall.


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Supplemental Table

  • Received : 17 Aug 2017
  • Accepted : 22 Jul 2018
  • Published online : 01 Oct 2018

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