The transmission of tuberculosis in confined spaces: an analytical review of alternative epidemiological models

Int J Tuberc Lung Dis. 2003 Nov;7(11):1015-26.


Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease that is closely associated with poverty, with transmission occurring in situations where infected persons are in close contact with others in confined spaces. While it is well recognised that overcrowding increases the risk of transmission, this increased risk has not been quantified and the relationship between overcrowding and duration of exposure is not well understood. This paper analyses three epidemiological models that have been used to predict the transmission of airborne disease in confined spaces: the Mass Action model, Riley, Murphy and Riley's model and Gammaitoni and Nucci's model. A study is presented to demonstrate the range of applicability of each model and show how they can be applied to the transmission of both TB and diseases with short incubation periods such as measles. Gammiatoni and Nucci's generalised formulation is shown to be the most suitable for modelling airborne transmission in ventilated spaces, and it is subsequently used in a parametric study to evaluate the effect of physical and environmental factors on the rate of disease transmission. The paper also presents reported quanta production data for several TB outbreaks and demonstrates that the greatest risk of TB infection is during clinical procedures that produce large quantities of aerosol, such as bronchoscopy or intubation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Disease Transmission, Infectious / statistics & numerical data*
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Humans
  • Models, Statistical*
  • Population Density
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / epidemiology*
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / transmission*