Tag Archives: #tuberculosis

Latent vs. Active TB

Tuberculosis is the leading cause of death globally from an infectious agent. In 2017, an estimated 10 million people developed TB disease and an estimated 1.6 million died1. A recent study demonstrated that <57% of internal medicine housestaff across 7 academic institutions in the U.S. correctly answered 9 out of 10 questions assessing knowledge of assessment and diagnosis of tuberculosis2. This post addresses these questions and to helps clarify latent vs. active TB in a clinical setting.

The primary focus for this blog post is pulmonary TB. Be aware that although the most common presentation of TB is with pulmonary symptoms, TB can present anywhere in the body and sometimes can present without pulmonary symptoms.

But first, definitions.

Definitions

Latent infection – the bacteria lies dormant in the body and does not cause any symptoms, typically tests for latent infection (see later section) will be positive

Active disease – the individual is experiencing symptoms due to the infection in the body, typically with characteristic imaging findings and microbiological confirmation

Primary disease – immediate onset of active disease after infection

Reactivation disease – onset of active disease after a period of latent infection

Extra-pulmonary disease – presence of bacteria outside of the lungs (the primary organ of infection)

Disseminated disease – two or more noncontiguous sites resulting from lymphohematogenous dissemination

Miliary disease – lesions in the lung that resemble millet seeds; seen in some cases of disseminated TB

Step 1: Risk stratification

Risk factors for TB exposure

  • having close contact with individuals who have active tuberculosis (roommates, family, friends, caregivers)
  • living/had lived in a country that is endemic for TB
  • living/working in a prison
  • living/working in a homeless shelter
  • injecting drugs
  • living/working in any other facility/institution that has high rate of TB (hospitals, nursing homes, residential homes for HIV patients) 

*USPSTF gives a grade B recommendation for screening those at increased risk (see list above) for latent tuberculosis infection4

Risk factors for TB reactivation

A. Normal host

  • 5-10% of reactivating TB in a lifetime6,13
  • 50% of that 5-10% is within the first 2-5 years of infection6,13

B. Age – immunity weakens in the elderly

C. Immunosuppression

  • HIV
  • End stage renal disease
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Lymphoma
  • Corticosteroid or TNF-alpha inhibitor use
  • Cigarette smoking

Step 2: Why is it important to distinguish latent TB from active TB?

The two syndromes are treated completely differently. Latent TB is non-infectious and does not require treatment to prevent progression of disease or transmission to others, but instead to prevent future reactivation. Active TB is infectious and needs to be treated to prevent spread of TB to others. The medications, doses and duration of therapy to treat these syndromes are also different from each other.

Active TB

A. Clinical symptoms

  • fevers/chills, night sweats, weight loss, SOB and/or cough
  • depending on site of TB disease, can have extrapulmonary symptoms (GI, CNS, spine, etc)
  • subacute to chronic onset of symptoms (typically > several weeks)

B. Imaging

  • will typically have active pulmonary abnormalities seen on imaging (this can be any type of abnormality – infiltrates, cavitary lesions, effusions, or solitary nodules)
  • although the most common cause of apical lung scarring is prior TB infection, lung abnormalities DO NOT have to be in the apices of the lungs (they can be anywhere)

Latent TB
(make diagnosis ONLY after you have excluded active TB)

A. Clinical symptoms

  • the patient is asymptomatic (= NO symptoms of active TB)

B. Imaging

  • there is no active lung abnormality on chest imaging
  • (calcified granulomas/nodules or anything that is deemed old, healed scarring is excluded)

*If there are any signs suggestive of active TB, then the patient should undergo active TB evaluation (discussed below). If there is no evidence of active TB, then treatment can be based on latent TB diagnostics (discussed below).

Step 3: Evaluating for TB – diagnostic tests

A. Active TB tests (pulmonary TB)

  • obtain 2-3 sputum samples, ideally at least 8 hours apart, may require sputum induction if patient is not able to cough up sputum.
  • one ideally should be in the morning (highest burden of TB in the morning due to pooling of secretions overnight)
  • obtaining a bronchoscopy sample only counts for one sample
  • send a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) on the 1st sputum sample

1. AFB smear – fluorochrome stain of the clinical specimen

  • sensitivity = 67.5% (95% CI, 60.6 to 73.9)8
  • specificity = 97.5% (95% CI, 97.0 to 97.9)8

2. AFB culture – the gold standard test for tuberculosis diagnosis

  • can take up to 6 weeks to grow for solid culture versus ~ 2 weeks for liquid culture

3. PCR = NAAT (nucleic acid amplification test) – this is a DNA test using amplification methods

  • GeneXpert MTB/RIF assay is a brand test that combines the NAAT with rapid test for rifampin resistance sensitivity and specificity are high in pulmonary tuberculosis but is lower when used on specimens other than sputum.
    • sensitivity: 98% (for smear-positive, culture-positive specimens in HIV-negative patients)9
    • specificity: 99%9
  • this test can be run on both AFB smear negative and positive specimens (although sensitivity is lower on AFB smear negative specimens)
  • more specific than the smear because it tests directly for tuberculosis genes, whereas positive AFB smears can be due to non-tuberculous mycobacteria or other acid-fast staining bacteria (i.e. Nocardia)
  • positive result → TB diagnosis
    negative result → does not rule out TB

B. Latent TB tests

1. Tuberculin Skin Test (TST) = Purified Protein Derivative (PPD)

  • intradermal injection of tuberculin material (many different materials available)
  • causes a delayed-type hypersensitivity response in individuals whose immune system has been exposed to TB before
  • positive test = induration at the injection site within 48-72 hours
  • negative test = no induration

Threshold for treatment

TB, tuberculosis; CXR, chest X-ray; HIV, human immunodeficiency virus; IBW, ideal body weight

*individuals who have received the BCG vaccine in the past may also test positive with this test since their immune systems have been exposed to TB via the vaccine (although immunity tends to wane within 10 years if vaccine is administered in infancy)

2. Interferon Gamma Release Assay (IGRA) = QuantiFERON-TB Gold or Plus  OR T-SPOT.TB

  • blood test for detection of cell-mediated immune response to TB antigen
  • not affected by BCG vaccine or BCG treatment
  • 80-90% sensitivity, >95% specificity (sensitivity is diminished in immunocompromised hosts)5
  • the QuantiFERON-TB Gold test is made up of 3 tubes:
    • negative control (everyone should not react)
    • positive control (everyone should react), and the
    • TB antigen that is recognized by CD4 cells
  • **QuantGold-PLUS (a new test) has added a 4th tube with TB antigen that binds to CD8 cells thereby increasing sensitivity of the test12
  • positive test → patient’s blood reacted to the TB antigen and positive control but not the negative control
  • negative test → patient’s blood did not react to the TB antigen but did react to the positive control
  • indeterminate test → patient’s blood did not react to the positive control so test is invalid (this typically happens when the patient is immunocompromised and cannot mount an immune response to the positive control and thus would not react to the TB antigen either – even if they were exposed to TB)

*Indeterminate result DOES NOT mean it is in the middle between negative and positive. It means the test cannot provide a valid result.

*all latent diagnostic tests can cross-react in individuals infected with non-tuberculous mycobacteria (TST more so than the IGRA)

*Neither test is 100% sensitive and specific – if the patient has high pre-test probability for TB exposure and for future TB reactivation, ID physicians will sometimes treat for latent TB despite the negative tests 

Step 4: Treating TB

Treatment is complex and both choice of medication and duration depends on a variety of clinical and microbiological factors. Here is a basic overview of the difference in treatment between latent and active TB.

A. Latent TB (CDC)

*This is a useful calculator to determine the risks and benefits of TB reactivation vs. side effects from treatment in an individual patient. 

            a) Isoniazid – daily for 6 to 9 months

            b) Rifampin – daily for 4 months

            c) Rifapentine and isoniazid – weekly for 3 months

B. Active TB
— depends on susceptibility of bacteria and clinical syndrome
— RIPE therapy is the standard first-line therapy for fully-susceptible pulmonary TB infection with 2 months of all four drugs followed by 4 months of rifampin and isoniazid.

  R = rifampin

  I = isoniazid

  P = pyrazinamide

  E = ethambutol

*Ethambutol can be discontinued if drug susceptibility testing confirms a fully susceptible strain

*Patients with extensive disease e.g. cavitation or who remain smear and/or culture positive at 2 months may require a longer duration of therapy.

Don’t forget to:

  • give daily Vitamin B6 with isoniazid to prevent peripheral neuropathy
  • get baseline eye exam when starting ethambutol to enable monitoring for optic neuritis, particularly in patients with abnormal renal function
  • evaluate for other co-morbidities such as HIV, hepatitis B or C, diabetes or substance use

References:

1. Global Tuberculosis Report 2018: Executive Summary. World Health Organization. Published Sept 2018. Accessed Mar 10, 201

2. Chida N, Brown C, Mathad J, et al. Internal Medicine Residents’ Knowlesge and Practice of Pulmonary Tuberculosis Diagnosis. OFID. 2018; 5(7).

3. Tuberculosis (TB). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/tb. Accessed Feb 13, 2019.

4. US Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for Latent Tuberculosis Infection in Adults. US Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement. JAMA. 2016; 316(9):962-969. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.11046

5. Lewinsohn DM, Leonard MK, LoBue PA, et al. Official American Thoracic Society/Infectious Disease Society of America/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Clinical Practice Guidelines: Diagnosis of Tuberculosis in Adults and Children. Clin Infect Dis. 2017; 64(2):111-115. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciw778

6. Horsburgh CR. Priorities for the Treatment of Latent Tuberculosis Infection in the United States. N Engl J Med. 2004; 350:2060-2067. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMsa031667

7. Pai M, Behr MA, Dowdy D, et al. Primer: Tuberculosis. Nature Reviews. 2016; 2:1-23.

8. Mathew P, Yen-Hong K, Vazirani B, Eng RHK, and Weinstein MP. Are Three Sputum Acid-Fast Bacillus Smears Necessary for Discontinuing Tuberculosis Isolation? J Clin Microbiol. 2002; 40(9):3482-3484. doi: 10.1128/JCM.40.9.3482-3484.2002

9. Steingart KR, Schiller I, Horne DJ, Pai M, Boehme CC, and Dendukuri N. Xpert® MTB/RIF assay for pulmonary tuberculosis and rifampicin resistance in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014 Jan 21;(1):CD009593. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD009593.pub3.

10. Zeka AN, Tasbakan S, and Cavusoglu C. Evaluation of the GeneXpert MTB/RIF Assay for Rapid Diagnosis of Tuberculosis and Detection of Rifampin Resistance in Pulmonary and Extrapulmonary Specimens. 2011; 49(12):4138-4141. doi:10.1128/JCM.05434-11.  

11. Menzies D. Use of the tuberculin skin test for diagnosis of latent tuberculosis infection (tuberculosis screening) in adults. UpToDate. Available from: https://www.uptodate.com/contents/use-of-the-tuberculin-skin-test-for-diagnosis-of-latent-tuberculosis-infection-tuberculosis-screening-in-adults#H9. Accessed Feb 13, 2019.

12. QuantiFERON®-TB Gold Plus (QFT®-Plus) ELISA [Package Insert]. Hilden, Germany: Qiagen; 2016.

13. Comstock GW. Epidemiology of tuberculosis. Am Rev Respir Dis. 1982; 125(3 Pt 2):8.

5 things that ID fellows wish you knew

3rdtimeisthe charm

1. Yeast in the sputum does not always need treatment.

We often see yeast pop up in sputum cultures and BAL cultures in ICU patients. However, yeast in hospitalized patients is typically Candida species, which are NOT typical pulmonary pathogens. Candida pneumonia is rare. In a recent study that looked at how often yeast isolated from sputum/BAL culture in ICU patients truly are reflective of Candida pneumonia, they found that 5/701 samples were consistent with Candida pneumonia (0.7%).  3/5 patients had severe gastric contents aspiration and 4/5 were immunocompromised.1

What does this mean? Unless the patient recently had significant aspiration or is immunocompromised, Candida spp. in the sputum is unlikely to be a true pathogen.

Other potential yeasts can include Cryptococcus spp., Histoplasma capsulatum, Blastomycosis spp., Coccidioides spp., and Paracoccidioides spp. These can represent true clinical infections. Treatment for these infections is different from Candida spp. and risk should be assessed given the patient’s clinical context.

 

2. It’s all about “source control”.

This means that if the area of infection can be physically removed or debrided, it should be done to optimize the chance of cure. This can also help increase diagnostic yield for targeted antibiotic therapy. Examples:

  • If there is an abscess, it should be drained, if possible.
  • If there is an infected foreign body, it should be removed, if possible.
  • If there is infected bone, it should be debrided/removed, if possible.

The STOP-IT trial in 2015 showed that in patients with intra-abdominal abscesses who received adequate source control (drainage of abscess or surgical resection), 3-5 days of antibiotics post-source control was non-inferior to 8-10 days of antibiotics after source control.2

There are obviously times when source control is not possible, too risky, or may cause more harm than benefit. However, anytime a patient has an infection, source control should be considered in the initial management strategy.

 

3. Do not treat asymptomatic bacteriuria and do not send urine cultures on asymptomatic patients.

  • The urogenital tract is not a sterile area and bacteria are often found that are not causing any symptoms or harm to the patient.
  • Antibiotics that are started for asymptomatic bacteriuria can cause harm.
  • If a patient has a urinary catheter, replace urinary catheter and resend a urine culture.
  • Pyuria in asymptomatic bacteriuria does not require treatment3.

 

The 2 times to treat asymptomatic bacteriuria:

  1. Pregnant patients
  2. Patients who are about to undergo a urologic procedure

 

A Cochrane review published in 2015 evaluated 9 randomized-controlled-trials (and a total of 1614 non-pregnant adults) who looked at antibiotic treatment vs. placebo for asymptomatic bacteriuria, and demonstrated that there was no difference in development of symptomatic urinary tract infections, UTI complications, or death between the two groups. The treatment group had a 3.77 increased risk of antibiotic side effects.4

 

4. Beta-D-glucan results need to be taken in the context of the patient’s clinical picture.

Not all fungal infections cause elevated beta-D-glucan and not all elevated beta-D-glucan levels indicate a fungal infection.

Initial studies that looked at beta-D-glucan test characteristics were done in immunocompromised patients. In that group, the test performed well, with sensitivity ranging 64-95% and specificity ranging from 92-95% (variation depending on prevalence and test level cutoff for positivity).5-7

However, in the non-immunocompromised population in the intensive care units, the test has not shown to have the same specificity. The sensitivity remains high in the 80%-90% range while specificity drops as low as 38% in non-neutropenic patients with known candida colonization.8-10

5. Send a GeneXpert© NAAT test with the first AFB smear and remember that there is no such thing as a “TB rule out”.

The current CDC/IDSA guidelines in evaluation of active pulmonary tuberculosis is to:

  • obtain 3 sputum AFB smears/cultures at least 8-24 hours apart.11
  • ideally obtain at least one smear as an early morning sample (highest concentration of mycobacteria at that time).11
  • send a GeneXpert© nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) on the 1st sputum specimen.11
    ⇒ This test can detect tuberculosis genes as well as detect rifampin susceptibility and usually comes back quickly.
  • A bronchial (BAL) specimen can count as one sputum sample.11
  • In the US from 2011-2013, only 46% of patients with TB had a positive AFB smear.
    ⇒ Three negative sputum AFB smears does not “rule out” TB. The patient can still have TB, but the probability of TB is lower and they are less likely to be infectious if all three smears are negative.11,12,13

 

 

References:

  1. Schnabel RM, Linssen, CF, Guion CF, van Mook WN, and Bergmans DC. Candida pneumonia in Intensive Care Unit? OFID. 2014;1(1) ofu026. doi:https://doi.org/10.1093/ofid/ofu026
  2. Sawyer RG, Claridge JA, Nathens AB, et al. Trial of Short-Course Antimicrobial Therapy for Intraabdominal Infection. NEJM. 2015; 372:1996-2005. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1411162
  3. Nicolle LE, Bradley S, Colgan R, et al. Infectious Diseases Society of America Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Asymptomatic Bacteriuria in Adults. CID. 2005; 40: 643-654.
  4. Trestioreanu, AZ, Lador A, Sauerbrun-Cutler M, and Leibovici, L. Antibiotics for asymptomatic bacteriuria. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2015. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD009534.pub2
  5. Odabasi Z, Mattiuzzi G, Estey E, et al. β- d -Glucan as a Diagnostic Adjunct for Invasive Fungal Infections: Validation, Cutoff Development, and Performance in Patients with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia and Myelodysplastic Syndrome. Clin Infect Dis. 2004; 2(15):199-205. doi:https://doi.org/10.1086/421944
  6. Ostrosky-Zeichner L, Alexander BD, Kett DH, et al. Multicenter Clinical Evaluation of the (1→3) β-D-Glucan Assay as an Aid to Diagnosis of Fungal Infections in Humans. Clin Infect Dis. 2005; 41(5): 654-659. doi:https://doi.org/10.1086/432470
  7. Obayashi T, Negishi K, Suzuki T, and Funata N. Reappraisal of the serum (1–>3)-beta-D-glucan assay for the diagnosis of invasive fungal infections–a study based on autopsy cases from 6 years. Clin Infect Dis. 2008;46(12):1864-70. doi:10.1086/588295
  8. Mohr JF, Sims C, Paetznick V, et al. Prospective survey of (1à3)-beta-D-glucan and its relationshop to invasive candidiasis in the surgical intensive care unit setting. J Clin Microbio. 2011; 49(10):58-61. doi:10.1128/JCM.01240-10
  9. Liew YX, Teo J, Ai-Ling Too I, et al. Candida Surveillance in Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU) in a Tertiary Institution. BMC Infect Dis. 2015; 15(256):1-8. doi:10.1186/s12879-015-0997-6
  10. Lo Cascio G, Koncan R, Stringari G, et al. Interference of confounding factors on the use of (1,3)-beta-D-glucan in the diagnosis of invasive candidiasis in the intensive care unit. Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 2015; 34(2):357-365. doi:10.1007/s10096-014-2239-z
  11. Lewinsohn DM, Leonard MK, LoBue PA, Cohn DL, Daley CL et al. Official American Thoracic Society/Infectious Disease Society of America/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Clinical Practice Guidelines: Diagnosis of Tuberculosis in Adults and Children. 2017; 64(2):111-115. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciw778
  12. Mase S, Ramsay A, Ng N, Henry M, Hopewell PC, Cunningham J, Urbanczik R, Perkins M, Aziz MA, Pai M. Yield of serial sputum specimen examinations in the diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis: a systematic review. Int J Tuberc Lung Dis. 2007;11(5):485-95. PMID:17439669
  13. CDC. Reported Tuberculosis in the United States, 2013. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC, October 2014.