Review of Repatriation Measures for Foreign Laborers with Pulmonary Tuberculosis in Central Taiwan

Shin-Yi Lin1、Sung-Hsi Wei2、Shao-Hui Tsai2、Chiung-Wen Chang2、Wan-Ting Huang3、Lu-Hsuan Chen1、Chih-chung Tu2、Ching-Fen Ko2、Min-Cheng Lin2

2013 Vol.29 NO.8

Correspondence Author: Min-Cheng Lin

  • 1. Department of Public Health, China Medical University
  • 2. Third Branch, Centers for Disease Control, Taiwan
  • 3. Epidemic Intelligence Center, Centers for Disease Control, Taiwan


        According to the regulations in Taiwan, foreign laborers should be repatriated after the diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis (TB). The uninterrupted medical care and public health intervention for the repatriated TB patients rely on adequate international collaboration. However, the quality of international referral was rarely evaluated.

        Foreign laborers with suspected pulmonary TB in central Taiwan reported between July 2009 and February 2012 were enrolled. Demographic data of the referral forms were reviewed and compared with that in the National Notifiable Diseases System (NNDS). The laboratory results, drug resistance profile and medications for TB were recorded. The smear positive rate and culture positive rate were analyzed and compared with those of pulmonary TB patients in Taiwan in 2009.

        During the study period, 206 foreign laborers were diagnosed with pulmonary TB. Among the 141 cases with referral forms, 28 (19.9%) had consistent demographic records on the referral forms and NNDS. Among the 177 (85.9%) patient who had sputum studies, 23 (11.2%) were smear positive and 65 (31.6%) were culture positive. The smear positive rate and culture positive rate of foreign laborers were both significantly lower than those of pulmonary TB patients in Taiwan in 2009 (p<0.001). Among the 65 culture positive cases, 5 (7.7%) had mycobacterium isolate resistant to at least one anti-TB medication. Of the 194 foreign laborers who had been repatriated, 57 (29.4%) had been treated with anti-TB drugs for at least 14 days.

        The inconsistence of demographic data between referral form and NDDS might lead to difficulties in international collaboration. Inadequate anti-TB treatment before repatriation might result in unexpected exposure to TB among other passengers.