Tuberculosis (TB) transmission in nontraditional settings and relationships (non-TSR) often eludes detection by conventional contact investigation and is increasingly common. The U.S.-based National Tuberculosis Genotyping and Surveillance Network collected epidemiologic data and genotyping results of Mycobacterium tuberculosis isolates from 1996 to 2000.
In 2003–2004, we determined the number and characteristics of TB patients in non-TSR that were involved in recent transmission, generated a decision tree to profile those patients, and performed a case-control study to identify predictors of being in non-TSR.
Of 10,844 culture-positive reported TB cases that were genotyped, 4724 (43.6%) M. tuberculosis isolates were clustered with at least one other isolate. Among these, 520 (11%) had epidemiologic linkages discovered during conventional contact investigation or cluster investigation and confirmed by genotyping results. The decision tree identified race/ethnicity (non-Hispanic white or black) as having the greatest predictive ability to determine patients in non-TSR, followed by being aged 15 to 24 years and having positive or unknown HIV infection status. From the 520, 85 (16.4%) had non-TSR, and 435 (83.6%) had traditional settings and relationships (TSR). In multivariate analyses, patients in non-TSR were significantly more likely than those in TSR to be non-Hispanic white (adjusted odds ratio [aOR]=6.1; 95% confidence interval [CI]=1.7–21.1]) or to have an M. tuberculosis isolate resistant to rifampin (aOR=5.2; 95% CI=1.5–17.7).
Decision-tree analyses can be used to enhance both the efficiency and effectiveness of TB prevention and control activities in identifying patients in non-TSR.
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