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Review
. 2017 Nov 3;216(suppl_6):S644-S653.
doi: 10.1093/infdis/jix354.

Drivers of Tuberculosis Transmission

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Free PMC article
Review

Drivers of Tuberculosis Transmission

Barun Mathema et al. J Infect Dis. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Measuring tuberculosis transmission is exceedingly difficult, given the remarkable variability in the timing of clinical disease after Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection; incident disease can result from either a recent (ie, weeks to months) or a remote (ie, several years to decades) infection event. Although we cannot identify with certainty the timing and location of tuberculosis transmission for individuals, approaches for estimating the individual probability of recent transmission and for estimating the fraction of tuberculosis cases due to recent transmission in populations have been developed. Data used to estimate the probable burden of recent transmission include tuberculosis case notifications in young children and trends in tuberculin skin test and interferon γ-release assays. More recently, M. tuberculosis whole-genome sequencing has been used to estimate population levels of recent transmission, identify the distribution of specific strains within communities, and decipher chains of transmission among culture-positive tuberculosis cases. The factors that drive the transmission of tuberculosis in communities depend on the burden of prevalent tuberculosis; the ways in which individuals live, work, and interact (eg, congregate settings); and the capacity of healthcare and public health systems to identify and effectively treat individuals with infectious forms of tuberculosis. Here we provide an overview of these factors, describe tools for measurement of ongoing transmission, and highlight knowledge gaps that must be addressed.

Keywords: epidemiology; estimating transmission; transmission; transmission amplifiers; tuberculosis.

Figures

Figure 1.
Figure 1.
Factors influencing transmission.
Figure 2.
Figure 2.
Some key questions relevant for transmission studies.

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