TB transmission is associated with prolonged stay in a low socio-economic, high burdened TB and HIV community in Cape Town, South Africa

Tadokera, Rebecca; Bekker, Linda-Gail; Kreiswirth, Barry N.; Mathema, Barun; Middelkoop, Keren

While several studies have assessed the associations between biological factors and tuberculosis (TB) transmission, our understanding of the associations between TB transmission and social and economic factors remains incomplete. We aimed to explore associations between community TB transmission and socio-economic factors within a high TB-HIV burdened setting.

We conducted a cross-sectional molecular epidemiology study among adult patients attending a routine TB clinic. Demographic and clinical data were extracted from TB registers and clinical folders; social and economic data were collected using interviewer-administered questionnaires; Mycobacterium tuberculosis isolates were genotyped and classified as clustered/non-clustered using IS6110-based Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism. Composite “social” and “economic” scores were generated from social and economic data. Data were analyzed using StataCorp version 15.0 software. Stratified, bivariable analyses were performed using chi-squared. Wilcoxon signed rank tests; univariable and multivariable logistic regression models were developed to explore associations in the social, economic, traditional and composite TB risk factors with TB transmission.

Of the 505 patient Mtb  strains, 348(69%) cases were classified as clustered and 157(31%) were non-clustered. Clustered cases were more likely to have lived longer in the study community, (odds ratio [OR] = 1.05, 95% Confidence interval [C.I]:1.02–1.09, p = 0.006); in the same house (OR = 1.04, C.I: 0.99–1.08, p = 0.06); and had increased household crowding conditions (i.e fewer rooms used for sleeping, OR = 0.45, C.I:0.21–0.95, p = 0.04). Although a higher proportion of clustered cases had a low economic score, no statistically significant association was found between clustering and either the economic score (p = 0.13) or social score (p = 0.26).

We report a novel association between Mtb transmission and prolonged stay within a high burdened community. Transmission was also associated with fewer rooms for sleeping in a household. Increased social interaction and prolonged residence in a high burdened community are important factors linked to Mtb transmission, possibly due to increased probability of higher effective contact rates. The possible importance of degrees of poverty within low socio-economic setting warrants further study.

Geographic Areas


  • thumnail for 12879_2020_Article_4828.pdf 12879_2020_Article_4828.pdf application/pdf 416 KB Download File

Also Published In

BMC Infectious Diseases

More About This Work

Published Here
December 20, 2022


Tuberculosis, TB transmission, Clustering, Socio-economic status, RFLP, Molecular epidemiology