Establishing an employee baseline purified protein derivative status in the division of immigration health service processing centers

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of Community Health








Purified Protein Derivative (PPD); Screening; Tuberculosis


While the incidence of reportable tuberculosis in United States born persons declined, the number of cases among foreign-born persons increased by 6 percent in 1998. The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) processes about 95,000 undocumented aliens annually from countries with a high prevalence of tuberculosis. An effort was made to establish a baseline Purified Protein Derivative (PPD) status of employees of the Division of Immigration Health (DIH) and INS, Services Processing Centers (SPC). This was achieved through a special operation (project) of a one time, two-step, mass PPD testing of all SPC employees on all eleven sites in the United States and Puerto Rico. A reading of > 10mm was considered positive. The operation was optional and open to all SPC employees. Exclusion criteria for the study included a history of PPD skin testing within six months of the operation, past history of positive PPD test and past history of tuberculosis. Preliminary results from El Paso SPC, Texas, which is the largest SPC, showed that of the 148 employees which were tested (67 percent of all employees), 17 (11 percent) were PPD positive. Security officers constituted 100 percent of all positive cases. Eighty-one percent of the employees at El Paso are security officers, eighty-seven percent of whom participated in the study. Only 20 (23 percent) of administrative staff participated in the study. Results from El Paso are suggestive of differences in the pattern PPD positivity among SPC employees. The complete results of the study should provide sound evidence for formulating appropriate policies for establishing an effective employee tuberculosis prevention and surveillance program in the Service Processing Centers. © 2001 Human Sciences Press, Inc.