Connecting the dots: understanding how human mobility shapes TB epidemics

Trends Microbiol. 2022 Nov;30(11):1036-1044. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2022.04.005. Epub 2022 May 18.


Tuberculosis (TB) remains a leading infectious cause of death worldwide. Reducing TB infections and TB-related deaths rests ultimately on stopping forward transmission from infectious to susceptible individuals. Critical to this effort is understanding how human host mobility shapes the transmission and dispersal of new or existing strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb). Important questions remain unanswered. What kinds of mobility, over what temporal and spatial scales, facilitate TB transmission? How do human mobility patterns influence the dispersal of novel Mtb strains, including emergent drug-resistant strains? This review summarizes the current state of knowledge on mobility and TB epidemic dynamics, using examples from three topic areas, including inference of genetic and spatial clustering of infections, delineating source-sink dynamics, and mapping the dispersal of novel TB strains, to examine scientific questions and methodological issues within this topic. We also review new data sources for measuring human mobility, including mobile phone-associated movement data, and discuss important limitations on their use in TB epidemiology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antitubercular Agents / therapeutic use
  • Epidemics*
  • Humans
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis* / genetics
  • Tuberculosis* / epidemiology
  • Tuberculosis* / microbiology


  • Antitubercular Agents