MONDAY, Jan. 10 (HealthDay News) -- People over age 65 are at
increased risk for serious side effects while undergoing latent
tuberculosis therapy, a new study finds.
Latent tuberculosis occurs when TB bacteria lurk in the body
without making the person sick. The host has no symptoms of TB and
is not contagious. However, there is still a chance the bacteria
could multiply and cause tuberculosis, which can be fatal if it
Latent TB therapy reduces the chances of developing active TB
and is used in Canada and the United States as a way to control the
disease. The decision to treat a patient with latent TB therapy
depends on his or her risk of developing active disease and of
experiencing harmful side effects, explained Dr. Dick Menzies, of
the Montreal Chest Institute, and colleagues.
In a six-year study of a large population of more than 9,000
latent TB patients who were treated for tuberculosis and a matching
control group that was not treated, Menzies and his colleagues
found that a higher percentage of patients undergoing latent TB
therapy required hospitalization for serious liver problems that
those who went untreated. The excess risk was contributed largely
by people over 65, he and his colleagues reported, adding that the
risk remained significant even after adjusting for co-existing
diseases and other factors.
"Our data suggest that the risks of therapy for latent tuberculosis infection are considerable among the elderly and should be considered very carefully before therapy is given," he and his colleagues concluded in the study.
The study was published in the Jan. 10 issue of the
Canadian Medical Association Journal.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more