Detailed characterisation of the tuberculosis epidemic in Western Sydney: a descriptive epidemiological study

ERJ Open Res. 2019 Sep 10;5(3):00211-2018. doi: 10.1183/23120541.00211-2018. eCollection 2019 Jul.


Traditional tuberculosis (TB) epidemiology reports rarely provide a detailed analysis of TB incidence in particular geographic locations and among diverse population groups. Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) has one of the highest TB incidence rates in Australia, and we explored whether more detailed epidemiological analysis could provide a better overview of the local disease dynamics. Using multiple relevant data sources, we performed a retrospective descriptive study of TB cases diagnosed within the WSLHD from 2006 to 2015 with a specific focus on geographic hotspots and the population structure within these hotspots. Over the study period nearly 90% of Western Sydney TB cases were born in a high TB incidence country. The TB disease burden was geographically concentrated in particular areas, with variable ethnic profiles in these different hotspots. The most common countries of birth were India (33.0%), the Philippines (11.4%) and China (8.8%). Among the local government areas in Western Sydney, Auburn had the highest average TB incidence (29.4 per 100 000) with exceptionally high population-specific TB incidence rates among people born in Nepal (average 223 per 100 000 population), Afghanistan (average 154 per 100 000 population) and India (average 143 per 100 000 population). Similar to other highly cosmopolitan cities around the world, the TB burden in Sydney showed strong geographic concentration. Detailed analysis of TB patient and population profiles in Western Sydney should guide better contextualised and culturally appropriate public health strategies.