In this retrospective study, we used whole-genome sequencing (WGS) to delineate transmission dynamics, characterize drug-resistance markers, and identify risk factors of transmission among Papua New Guinea residents of the Torres Strait Protected Zone (TSPZ) who had tuberculosis diagnoses during 2010-2015. Of 117 isolates collected, we could acquire WGS data for 100; 79 were Beijing sublineage 184.108.40.206, which was associated with active transmission (odds ratio 6.190, 95% CI 2.221-18.077). Strains were distributed widely throughout the TSPZ. Clustering occurred more often within than between villages (p = 0.0013). Including 4 multidrug-resistant tuberculosis isolates from Australia citizens epidemiologically linked to the TSPZ into the transmission network analysis revealed 2 probable cross-border transmission events. All multidrug-resistant isolates (33/104) belonged to Beijing sublineage 220.127.116.11 and had high-level isoniazid and ethionamide co-resistance; 2 isolates were extensively drug resistant. Including WGS in regional surveillance could improve tuberculosis transmission tracking and control strategies within the TSPZ.
Keywords: Australia; Beijing sublineage 18.104.22.168; MDR TB; Mycobacterium tuberculosis; Papua New Guinea; TB; Torres Strait; antimicrobial resistance; bacteria; cross-border movement; drug resistance; ethionamide; isoniazid; mycobacteria; transmission; tuberculosis; tuberculosis and other mycobacteria; whole-genome sequencing.