BACKGROUND : Airborne transmission of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB) remains an
occupational health hazard particularly in crowded and resource limited healthcare settings.
AIM : The study aimed to quantify airborne TB in a busy outpatient clinic in Gauteng, South
METHODS : Personal (HCWs) and stationary air samples were collected in the Polyclinic and
Administrative block. Quantitative real-time PCR was used to detect airborne TB.
Walkthrough observations and work practices of HCWs were also recorded.
FINDINGS : TB was detected in 11/49 (22.4%) of the 9/25 (36%) personal and 2/24 (8.3%)
stationary samples. Samples from 5 of 10 doctors (50%) and 3 of 13 nurses (23%) were
positive. Repeat measurements on different days showed variable results. Most of the
HCWs (87.5%) with positive results had been in contact with coughing patients and had not
worr respiratory masks despite been training.
CONCLUSION : The use of air sampling coupled with real-time qPCR is a simple and effective
tool to demonstrate the risk of TB exposure. The findings provide an impetus for hospital
management to strengthen TB infection prevention and control measures.