Transmission Modeling With Regression Adjustment for Analyzing Household-based Studies of Infectious Disease: Application to Tuberculosis

Epidemiology. 2020 Mar;31(2):238-247. doi: 10.1097/EDE.0000000000001143.


Background: Household contacts of people infected with a transmissible disease may be at risk due to this proximate exposure, or from other unobserved sources. Understanding variation in infection risk is essential for targeting interventions.

Methods: We develop an analytical approach to estimate household and exogenous forces of infection, while accounting for individual-level characteristics that affect susceptibility to disease and transmissibility. We apply this approach to a cohort study conducted in Lima, Peru, of 18,544 subjects in 4,500 households with at least one active tuberculosis (TB) case and compare the results to those obtained by Poisson and logistic regression.

Results: HIV-coinfected (susceptibility hazard ratio [SHR] = 3.80, 1.56-9.29), child (SHR = 1.72, 1.32-2.23), and teenage (SHR = 2.00, 1.49-2.68) household contacts of TB cases experience a higher hazard of TB than do adult contacts. Isoniazid preventive therapy (SHR = 0.30, 0.21-0.42) and Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination (SHR = 0.66, 0.51-0.86) reduce the risk of disease among household contacts. TB cases without microbiological confirmation exert a smaller hazard of TB among their close contacts compared with smear- or culture-positive cases (excess hazard ratio = 0.88, 0.82-0.93 for HIV- cases and 0.82, 0.57-0.94 for HIV+ cases). The extra household force of infection results in 0.01 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.004, 0.028) TB cases per susceptible household contact per year and the rate of transmission between a microbiologically confirmed TB case and susceptible household contact at 0.08 (95% CI = 0.045, 0.129) TB cases per pair per year.

Conclusions: Accounting for exposure to infected household contacts permits estimation of risk factors for disease susceptibility and transmissibility and comparison of within-household and exogenous forces of infection.