Background: Majority of active tuberculosis (TB) cases in children in low-incidence countries are due to rapid progression of infection (latent TB infection (LTBI)) to disease. We aimed to assess common practice for managing paediatric LTBI in Austria, Germany and Switzerland prior to the publication of the first joint national guideline for paediatric TB in 2017.
Methods: Online-based survey amongst pediatricians, practitioners and staff working in the public health sector between July and November 2017. Data analysis was conducted using IBM SPSS.
Results: A total of 191 individuals participated in the survey with 173 questionnaires included for final analysis. Twelve percent of respondents were from Austria, 60% from Germany and 28% from Switzerland. Proportion of children with LTBI and migrant background was estimated by the respondents to be >50% by 58%. Tuberculin skin test (TST) and interferon-gamma -release-assay (IGRA), particularly Quantiferon-gold-test, were reported to be used in 86% and 88%, respectively. In children > 5 years with a positive TST or IGRA a chest x-ray was commonly reported to be performed (28%). Fifty-three percent reported to take a different diagnostic approach in children <= 5 years, mainly combining TST, IGRA and chest x-ray for initial testing (31%). Sixty-eight percent reported to prescribe isoniazid-monotherapy: for 9 (62%), or 6 months (6%), 31% reported to prescribe combination therapy of isoniazid and rifampicin. Dosing of isoniazid and rifampicin below current recommendations was reported by up to 22% of respondents. Blood-sampling before/during LTBI treatment was reported in >90% of respondents, performing a chest-X-ray at the end of treatment by 51%.
Conclusion: This survey showed reported heterogeneity in the management of paediatric LTBI. Thus, regular and easily accessible educational activities and national up-to-date guidelines are key to ensure awareness and quality of care for children and adolescents with LTBI in low-incidence countries.