This research explores death from pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) using a verbal autopsy (VA) tool within the established Agincourt Health and Demographic Surveillance System site in South Africa's rural northeast. Previous work on active case finding in the area highlighted a modest burden of undiagnosed PTB in the community. This VA research confirms the existence of undiagnosed PTB deaths, with 13 (46%) of 28 PTB deaths among the permanent adult population (n = 38251) going undetected by the health service. There was a median duration of coughing in the community of 16 weeks among these undiagnosed PTB deaths. As most undiagnosed cases present to the health service at some point during their illness, intervention strategies to support early diagnosis at this level can only be re-emphasised by this work.
Pronyk, P.M.; Kahn, K.; Hargreaves, J.R.; Tollman, S.M.; Collinson, M.; Hausler, H.P.; Porter, J.D. Undiagnosed pulmonary tuberculosis deaths in rural South Africa. International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (2004) 8 (6) 796-799.