Logically Inferred Tuberculosis Transmission (LITT): A Data Integration Algorithm to Rank Potential Source Cases

Front Public Health. 2021 Jun 21:9:667337. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2021.667337. eCollection 2021.


Understanding tuberculosis (TB) transmission chains can help public health staff target their resources to prevent further transmission, but currently there are few tools to automate this process. We have developed the Logically Inferred Tuberculosis Transmission (LITT) algorithm to systematize the integration and analysis of whole-genome sequencing, clinical, and epidemiological data. Based on the work typically performed by hand during a cluster investigation, LITT identifies and ranks potential source cases for each case in a TB cluster. We evaluated LITT using a diverse dataset of 534 cases in 56 clusters (size range: 2-69 cases), which were investigated locally in three different U.S. jurisdictions. Investigators and LITT agreed on the most likely source case for 145 (80%) of 181 cases. By reviewing discrepancies, we found that many of the remaining differences resulted from errors in the dataset used for the LITT algorithm. In addition, we developed a graphical user interface, user's manual, and training resources to improve LITT accessibility for frontline staff. While LITT cannot replace thorough field investigation, the algorithm can help investigators systematically analyze and interpret complex data over the course of a TB cluster investigation. Code available at: https://github.com/CDCgov/TB_molecular_epidemiology/tree/1.0; https://zenodo.org/badge/latestdoi/166261171.

Keywords: cluster investigation; genomic epidemiology; transmission; tuberculosis; whole-genome sequencing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Humans
  • Molecular Epidemiology
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis* / genetics
  • Tuberculosis* / epidemiology
  • Whole Genome Sequencing