Transmission Network Analysis to Complement Routine Tuberculosis Contact Investigations

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Abstract

Objective.

We examined the feasibility and value of network analysis to complement routine tuberculosis (TB) contact investigation procedures during an outbreak.

Methods.

We reviewed hospital, health department, and jail records and interviewed TB patients. Mycobacterium tuberculosis isolates were genotyped. We evaluated contacts of TB patients for latent TB infection (LTBI) and TB, and analyzed routine contact investigation data, including tuberculin skin test (TST) results. Outcomes included number of contacts identified, number of contacts evaluated, and their TST status. We used network analysis visualizations and metrics (reach, degree, betweenness) to characterize the outbreak.

Results.

The index patient was symptomatic for 8 months and was linked to 37 secondary TB patients and more than 1200 contacts. Genotyping detected a 21-band pattern of a strain W variant. No HIV-infected patients were diagnosed. Contacts prioritized by network analysis were more likely to have LTBI than nonprioritized contacts (odds ratio = 7.8; 95% confidence interval = 1.6, 36.6). Network visualizations and metrics highlighted patients central to sustaining the outbreak and helped prioritize contacts for evaluation.

Conclusions.

A network-informed approach to TB contact investigations provided a novel means to examine large quantities of data and helped focus TB control.

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