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What is the rationale of three weeks cough as the primary symptom of pulmonary TB?

About 84% of smear positive cases attending health institutions can be detected by screening of chest symptomatics of ³ 3 weeks cough alone, as revealed in operational research studies. Subjecting patients with cough of <3 weeks or those with other chest symptoms to sputum smear microscopy may increase the workload of laboratory by almost three times while adding little to the case yield.