Measuring the size of the infectious pool of tuberculosis (TB) is essential to understand the burden and monitor trends of TB control program performance. This study applied the concept of TB management time to estimate and compare the size of the TB infectious pool between 2009 and 2014 in West Gojjam Zone of Amhara Region, Ethiopia.
New sputum smear-positive and smear-negative pulmonary TB (PTB) and retreatment cases who attended 30 randomly selected public health facilities in West Gojjam Zone from October 2013 to October 2014 were consecutively enrolled in the study. In order to determine the infectious period, the TB management time (number of days from the onset of cough until start of anti-TB treatment) was computed for each patient category. The number of undiagnosed TB cases was estimated and hence the TB management time for the undiagnosed category was calculated. The total size of the TB infectious pool during the study period for the study zone was estimated as the annual number of infectious person days.
New smear-positive and smear-negative PTB cases contributed 25,050 and 12,931 infectious person days per year to the TB infectious pool, respectively. The retreatment and presently undiagnosed cases contributed 8840 and 34,310 infectious person days per year, respectively. The total size of the TB infectious pool in West Gojjam Zone during the study period was estimated at 81,131 infectious person days per year or 3405 infectious person days per 100,000 population per year. Compared to a similar study done in 2009 in the study area, the current study showed reduction of the TB infectious pool by 244,279 infectious person days.
TB management time is a simple and practical tool that may help to estimate and compare the changes in the size of the TB infectious pool at local level. It may also be used as an indicator to monitor the changes in TB control program performance.