Pulmonary Tuberculosis Reactivation: Triggered by the Descent in Altitude?

Filipa Bianchi-de-Aguiar, Rafaela Campanha, Cátia Guimarães, Margarida Simões-Raposo


High altitudes are linked to decreased rates of pulmonary tuberculosis infection, disease and mortality. However, its relevance as a trigger for pulmonary tuberculosis reactivation in immunocompetent patients is not documented. A 28-year-old healthy Nepalese female was admitted in the emergency department with sudden left pleuritic back pain with shortness of breath, two weeks after arriving in Lisbon, having arrived from Kathmandu and undergone a change in altitude of 1400 metres. She also had evening low-grade fever and fatigue since she arrived. Her mother-in-law had died of tuberculosis two years before. Chest radiography and computed tomography scan showed a left upper lobe consolidation. Laboratory analyses were 79 mm/sec. Human immunodeficiency virus serology, blood cultures and urinary antigen testing were negative. Bronchial secretions’ cultures became positive for Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex. The patient was started on anti-tuberculous treatment and made a steady recovery. This case reports a probable reactivation of pulmonary tuberculosis infection that could have been triggered by altitude differences.


Altitude; Tuberculosis, Pulmonary

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