Mini-review: Silico-tuberculosis

Massimiliano Lanzafame, Sandro Vento

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Silicosis continues to be a serious health issue in many countries and its elimination by 2030 (a target set by WHO and the International Labour Organization in 1995) is virtually impossible. The risk to develop pulmonary tuberculosis for silicosis patients is higher than for non-silicosis people, and there is also an increased risk of both pulmonary and extrapulmonary tuberculosis in individuals exposed to silica. HIV coinfection adds further to the risk, and in some countries, such as South Africa, miners living with HIV are a considerable number. The diagnosis of active tuberculosis superimposed on silicosis is often problematic, especially in initial phases, and chest X-ray and smear examination are particularly important for the diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis. Treatment is difficult; directly observed therapy is recommended, a duration of at least eight months is probably needed, drug reactions are frequent and the risk of relapse higher than in non-silicosis patients. TB prevention in silicosis patients is essential and include active surveillance of the workers, periodic chest X-rays, tuberculin skin test or interferon-gamma releasing assay testing, and, importantly, adoption of measures to reduce the exposure to silica dust. Chemoprophylaxis is possible with different regimens and needs to be expanded around the world, but efficacy is unfortunately limited. Silico-tuberculosis is still a challenging health problem in many countries and deserves attention worldwide.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100218
JournalJournal of Clinical Tuberculosis and Other Mycobacterial Diseases
Publication statusPublished - May 2021


  • Low income countries
  • Miners
  • Mining
  • Silico-tuberculosis
  • Silicosis
  • Tuberculosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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