Public health outcome of Tuberculosis Cluster Investigations, England 2010–2013

Hamblion, E.L., Burkitt, A., Lalor, M.K., Anderson, L.F., Thomas, H.L., Abubakar, I., Morton, Stephen orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-7122-0201, Maguire, H. and Anderson, S.R. (2019) Public health outcome of Tuberculosis Cluster Investigations, England 2010–2013. Journal of Infection, 78 (4). pp. 269-274. ISSN 0163-4453

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Objectives: Tuberculosis (TB) is a serious re-emergent public health problem in the UK. In response to rising case incidence a National TB Strain-Typing Service based on molecular strain-typing was established. This facilitates early detection and investigation of clusters, targeted public health action, and prevention of further transmission. We review the added public health value of investigating molecular TB straintyped (ST) clusters. Methods: A structured questionnaire for each ST cluster investigated in England between 1 January 2010 and 30 June 2013 was completed. Questions related to epidemiological links and public health action and the perceived benefits of ST cluster investigation. Results: There were 278 ST cluster investigations (CIs) involving 1882 TB cases. Cluster size ranged from 2 to 92. CIs identified new epidemiological links in 36% of clusters; in 18% STs were discordant refuting transmission thought to have occurred. Additional public health action was taken following 23% of CI. Conclusions: We found positive benefits of TB molecular ST and CI, in identifying new epidemiological links between cases and taking public health action and in refuting transmission and saving resources. This needs to be translated to a decrease in transmission to provide evidence of public health value in this low prevalence high resource setting.

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