Long-term molecular analysis of tuberculosis strains in Alabama, a state characterized by a largely indigenous, low-risk population

Academic Article


  • With a tuberculosis case detection rate of 5.9 per 100,000 population in 2001, Alabama ranked twelfth highest in the United States. However, cases among foreign-born and human immunodeficiency virus-infected individuals remain low in Alabama. To understand the endemic statewide disease pattern, tuberculosis strains were studied for clustering in a long-term population-based study from January 1994 to May 2000. IS6110 restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis was performed for 1,834 strains. Spoligotyping was used as a secondary typing method for the 37% of isolates displaying a restriction fragment length polymorphism pattern with <6 IS6110 copies. A total of 721 (41%) patients provided isolates that composed 114 clusters, each containing isolates from 2 to 136 patients, suggesting that recent transmission accounted for 35% of tuberculosis cases. Demographic, behavioral, and clinical characteristics of patients with clustered versus nonclustered isolates stratified by low-copy-number strains (<6 IS6110 copies) versus high-copy-number strains (≥6 IS6110 copies) were evaluated. Younger age, black race, a history of alcohol abuse, and homelessness were predictors of clustering of low-copy-number, strains and younger age, urban residency, alcohol abuse, homelessness, noninjection drug use, and a history of incarceration and/or cavitary disease were predictors of clustering of high-copy-number strains. By identifying local characteristics of tuberculosis clustering through molecular fingerprinting, control programs can distribute their limited resources to impact the transmission of tuberculosis in high-risk populations and evaluate strain distribution across geographical areas.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Kempf MC; Dunlap NE; Lok KH; Benjamin WH; Keenan NB; Kimerling ME
  • Start Page

  • 870
  • End Page

  • 878
  • Volume

  • 43
  • Issue

  • 2