Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 21159930
J. Clin. Microbiol. 2011 Mar;49(3):834-44
While foreign-born persons constitute only 11% of the population in the state of Rhode Island, they account for more than 65% of incident tuberculosis (TB) annually. We investigated the molecular-epidemiological differences between foreign-born and U.S.-born TB patients to estimate the degree of recent transmission and identify predictors of clustering. A total of 288 isolates collected from culture-confirmed TB cases in Rhode Island between 1995 and 2004 were fingerprinted by spoligotyping and 12-locus mycobacterial interspersed repetitive units. Of the 288 fingerprinted isolates, 109 (37.8%) belonged to 36 genetic clusters. Our findings demonstrate that U.S.-born patients, Hispanics, Asian/Pacific islanders, and uninsured patients were significantly more likely to be clustered. Recent transmission among the foreign-born population was restricted and occurred mostly locally, within populations originating from the same region. Nevertheless, TB transmission between the foreign-born and U.S.-born population should not be neglected, since 80% of the mixed clusters of foreign- and U.S.-born persons arose from a foreign-born source case. We conclude that timely access to routine screening and treatment for latent TB infection for immigrants is vital for disease elimination in Rhode Island.