Identifying locations of recent TB transmission in rural Uganda: a multidisciplinary approach

Trop Med Int Health. 2015 Apr;20(4):537-45. doi: 10.1111/tmi.12459. Epub 2015 Feb 4.


Objectives: Targeting high Tuberculosis (TB) transmission sites may offer a novel approach to TB prevention in sub-Saharan Africa. We sought to characterise TB transmission sites in a rural Ugandan township.

Methods: We recruited adults starting TB treatment in Tororo, Uganda, over 1 year. Fifty four TB cases provided names of frequent contacts, sites of residence, health care, work and social activities, and two sputum samples. Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) culture-positive specimens underwent spoligotyping to identify strains with shared genotypes. We visualised TB case social networks, and obtained, mapped and geo-coded global positioning system measures for every location that cases reported frequenting 1 month before treatment. Locations of spatial overlap among genotype-clustered cases were considered potential transmission sites.

Results: Six distinct genotypic clusters were identified involving 21 of 33 (64%) MTB culture-positive, genotyped cases; none shared a home. Although 18 of 54 (33%) TB cases shared social network ties, none of the genotype-clustered cases shared social ties. Using spatial analysis, we identified potential sites of within-cluster TB transmission for five of six genotypic clusters. All sites but one were healthcare and social venues, including sites of drinking, worship and marketplaces. Cases reported spending the largest proportion of pre-treatment person-time (22.4%) at drinking venues.

Conclusions: Using molecular epidemiology, geospatial and social network data from adult TB cases identified at clinics, we quantified person-time spent at high-risk locations across a rural Ugandan community and determined the most likely sites of recent TB transmission to be healthcare and social venues. These sites may not have been identified using contact investigation alone.

Keywords: dinámicas de transmisión; dynamiques de la transmission; epidemiología molecular; molecular epidemiology; rural Africa; transmission dynamics; tuberculose; tuberculosis; zone rurale d'Afrique; África rural; épidémiologie moléculaire.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Molecular Epidemiology
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis* / genetics
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Rural Population*
  • Tuberculosis / epidemiology
  • Tuberculosis / transmission*
  • Uganda / epidemiology