Molecular Epidemiology of Tuberculosis in British Columbia, Canada: A 10-Year Retrospective Study.


Understanding regional molecular epidemiology allows for the development of more efficient tuberculosis prevention strategies in low-incidence settings.

We analyzed 24-locus mycobacterial interspersed repetitive-unit-variable-number tandem repeat (MIRU-VNTR) genotyping for 2290 Mycobacterium tuberculosis clinical isolates collected in the province of British Columbia (BC), Canada, in 2005-2014. Laboratory data for each isolate were linked to case-level clinical and demographic data. These data were used to describe the molecular epidemiology of tuberculosis across the province.

We detected >1500 distinct genotypes across the 4 major M. tuberculosis lineages, reflecting BC's diverse population. Disease site and clustering rates varied across lineages, and MIRU-VNTR was used to group the 2290 isolates into 189 clusters (2-70 isolates per cluster), with an overall clustering rate of 42.4% and an estimated local transmission rate of 34.1%. Risk factors for clustering varied between Canadian-born and foreign-born individuals; the former had increased odds (odds ratio, 7.8; 95% confidence interval [CI], 6.2-9.6) of belonging to a genotypic cluster, although nearly one-quarter of clusters included both Canadian- and foreign-born persons. Large clusters (≥10 cases) occurred more frequently within the M. tuberculosis Euro-American lineage, and individual-level risk factors associated with belonging to a large cluster included being Canadian born (adjusted odds ratio, 3.3; 95% CI, 2.3-4.8), residing in a rural area (2.3; 1.2-4.5), and illicit drug use (2.0; 1.2-3.4).

Although tuberculosis in BC largely arises through reactivation of latent tuberculosis in foreign-born persons, locally transmitted infections occur in discrete populations with distinct disease and risk factor profiles, representing groups for targeted interventions.

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