Epidemiology of pediatric tuberculosis using traditional and molecular techniques: Houston, Texas

Susan H. Wootton, Blanca E. Gonzalez, Rebecca Pawlak, Larry D. Teeter, Kim Connelly Smith, James M. Musser, Jeffrey R. Starke, Edward A. Graviss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Objective. To investigate the transmission dynamics of pediatric tuberculosis (TB) by analyzing the clinical characteristics with the molecular profiles of Mycobacterium tuberculosis isolates during a 5-year period. Methods. A retrospective review of a prospective population-based active surveillance and molecular epidemiology project was conducted in private and public pediatric clinics within Houston and Harris County, Texas. The study population consisted of patients who had pediatric TB diagnosed from October 1, 1995, through September 30, 2000. Cases and potential source cases (PSC) were interviewed using a standardized questionnaire. Available Mycobacterium tuberculosis isolates from cases and PSCs were characterized and compared by IS6110 restriction fragment length polymorphism, spoligotyping, and genetic group assignment. Clinical characteristics were described, and molecular characterizations were compared. Data were analyzed by using EpiInfo 6.02b and SAS 8.2. Results. A total of 220 (92%) of 238 pediatric TB cases were included. Epidemiologic and clinical findings were consistent with previous studies. Molecular profiles from 3 cases did not match the profile of PSC. Four previously unknown PSCs were identified using molecular techniques. Fifty-one (71.8%) of 71 isolates matched at least 1 other Houston Tuberculosis Initiative TB database isolate and were grouped into 33 molecular clusters. Cases were more likely to be clustered when the patients were younger than 5 years, identified a source case, or were US born. Conclusions. Traditional contact tracing may not always be accurate, and molecular characterization can lead to identification of previously unrecognized source cases. Recent transmission plays a significant role in the transmission of TB to children as evident by the high degree of clustering found in our study population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1141-1147
Number of pages7
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2005


  • Epidemiology
  • Infectious disease
  • Pediatric
  • Tuberculosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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