Few studies have prospectively compared the relative transmissibility and propensity to cause disease of Mycobacterium tuberculosis Beijing strains with other human-adapted strains of the M. tuberculosis complex. We assessed the effect of Beijing strains on the risk for M. tuberculosis infection and disease progression in 9,151 household contacts of 2,223 culture-positive pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) patients in Lima, Peru. Child contacts exposed to Beijing strains were more likely than child contacts exposed to non-Beijing strains to be infected at baseline, by 12 months of follow-up, and during follow-up. We noted an increased but nonsignificant tendency for child contacts to develop TB. Beijing strains were not associated with TB in adult contacts. These findings suggest that Beijing strains are more transmissible in children than are non-Beijing strains.
Keywords: BCG vaccine; Mycobacterium tuberculosis; Peru; Tuberculosis; bacteria; infection transmission; latent tuberculosis infection; tuberculosis and other mycobacteria.