Recent Transmission of Tuberculosis - United States, 2011-2014

PLoS One. 2016 Apr 15;11(4):e0153728. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0153728. eCollection 2016.


Tuberculosis is an infectious disease that may result from recent transmission or from an infection acquired many years in the past; there is no diagnostic test to distinguish the two causes. Cases resulting from recent transmission are particularly concerning from a public health standpoint. To describe recent tuberculosis transmission in the United States, we used a field-validated plausible source-case method to estimate cases likely resulting from recent transmission during January 2011-September 2014. We classified cases as resulting from either limited or extensive recent transmission based on transmission cluster size. We used logistic regression to analyze patient characteristics associated with recent transmission. Of 26,586 genotyped cases, 14% were attributable to recent transmission, 39% of which were attributable to extensive recent transmission. The burden of cases attributed to recent transmission was geographically heterogeneous and poorly predicted by tuberculosis incidence. Extensive recent transmission was positively associated with American Indian/Alaska Native (adjusted prevalence ratio [aPR] = 3.6 (95% confidence interval [CI] 2.9-4.4), Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (aPR = 3.2, 95% CI 2.3-4.5), and black (aPR = 3.0, 95% CI 2.6-3.5) race, and homelessness (aPR = 2.3, 95% CI 2.0-2.5). Extensive recent transmission was negatively associated with foreign birth (aPR = 0.2, 95% CI 0.2-0.2). Tuberculosis control efforts should prioritize reducing transmission among higher-risk populations.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • African Continental Ancestry Group
  • Aged
  • Bacterial Typing Techniques
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Communicable Disease Control
  • Emigration and Immigration
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Homeless Persons
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / genetics*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Tuberculosis / epidemiology
  • Tuberculosis / ethnology
  • Tuberculosis / transmission*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult

Grant support

The authors have no support or funding to report.