Networks and tuberculosis: an undetected community outbreak involving public places

A. S. Klovdahl, E. A. Graviss, A. Yaganehdoost, M. W. Ross, A. Wanger, G. J. Adams, J. M. Musser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

149 Scopus citations


After decades of decline in developed countries, there was a resurgence of tuberculosis in the mid-1980s accompanied by increased recognition that this infectious disease has long remained a major public health problem at the global level. New methods from molecular biology, in particular DNA 'fingerprinting' (of Mycobacterium tuberculosis), made it clear that current transmission and recent infection (in contrast to reactivation of earlier, latent infection) were much more significant than previously believed. Studies of tuberculosis outbreaks using these new tools pointed to complex networks through which infection was spreading and highlighted the need for new approaches to outbreak investigation and disease control. In the study reported here a new approach - combining methods from molecular biology, epidemiology and network analysis - was used to examine an outbreak of tuberculosis in Houston, Texas. Initial investigation using conventional strategies revealed few contacts among 37 patients with identical (six-band) DNA (IS6110-based) fingerprints but subsequent research uncovered over 40 places (including many gay bars) to which patients in this outbreak could be linked. Network methods were used to reconstruct an outbreak network and to quantify the relative importance (here, 'betweenness' centrality) of different actors (persons and places) playing a role in the outbreak. The multidisciplinary work provides the basis for a new approach to outbreak investigation and disease control. Copyright (C) 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)681-694
Number of pages14
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2001


  • DNA fingerprinting
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  • Network analysis
  • Outbreak investigation
  • Outbreak network
  • Place-finding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Social Psychology
  • Development
  • Health(social science)


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