Author(s): Madebo T, Lindtjorn B
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Abstract Despite the heavy burden of tuberculosis in Ethiopia, little is known about the length of time taken by the patient to seek medical care. We therefore assessed the duration of symptoms before treatment starts in patients with pulmonary tuberculosis. We studied 198 patients (134 men and 66 women) from Yirga Alem, Ethiopia, who were consecutively treated for newly diagnosed pulmonary tuberculosis. Tuberculosis was considered proven when a Ziehl-Neelsen stain of sputum showed acid-fast bacilli. The mean duration was 5.9 months, with a median (range) duration of illness for all patients of 4 months (0.5-36 months). Seventy-five percent of the patients had a duration of illness of more than 2 months, and in 25\% of the patients, the illness lasted more than 8 months. Patients with severe disease had a longer duration. Patients with a long duration of symptoms had a greater number of bacilli on direct microscopy of their sputum, suggesting a higher degree of infectivity. Married patients, persons with no formal education, and people living in rural areas had long illness duration. Also, patients with occupations such as farmers, housewives, soldiers, and houseworkers had increased risk compared with students. In south Ethiopia, patients with pulmonary tuberculosis present late to treatment. For some patients, the long pretreatment duration may have had consequences for the severity of the disease and for poor treatment results. Interventions that aim at earlier case detection may therefore be appropriate.
This article was published in MedGenMed
and referenced in Journal of Health Education Research & Development