A multi-state outbreak of tuberculosis among members of a highly mobile social network: Implications for tuberculosis elimination

T. R. Sterling, D. Thompson, R. L. Stanley, P. D. McElroy, A. Madison, K. Moore, R. Ridzon, S. Harrington, W. R. Bishai, R. E. Chaisson, S. Bur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


SETTING: Baltimore, Maryland. OBJECTIVE: To describe a tuberculosis (TB) outbreak among a highly mobile population and the efforts required to control it. DESIGN: Epidemiologic outbreak investigation. RESULTS: Between June 1998 and January 2000, 20 TB outbreak cases were identified, of which 18 were culture-confirmed. Seventeen isolates of Mycobacterium tuberculosis had an identical 11-band DNA fingerprint; another isolate had one additional band and was considered a match. Two cases were diagnosed in New York City; another patient lived primarily in Atlanta, but was diagnosed in Baltimore. Persons in the outbreak were predominantly young (median age 24 years), black, male, infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and gay, transvestite or transsexual. Activities common among many TB cases included attending two nightclubs, membership in one of three social 'Houses', attending balls or pageants in East Coast cities, marijuana use, and prostitution. Community outreach, extended contact tracing, DNA fingerprinting, directly-observed therapy, and expanded use of preventive therapy were utilized to assess and control the outbreak. During the outbreak period the Baltimore City TB rate declined by 10%. However, additional public health personnel were required to control the outbreak, resulting in a 17% increase in TB clinic staff. CONCLUSION: As TB rates decline, remaining cases are likely to occur in difficult-to-reach populations. Increased resources per case of TB treated will be required to eliminate TB.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1066-1073
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2000


  • AIDS
  • DNA fingerprinting
  • Epidemiology, molecular
  • HIV-1
  • Restriction fragment length polymorphism
  • Tuberculosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Infectious Diseases


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