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Canadian Respiratory Journal
Volume 3, Issue 5, Pages 317-321
Original Article

Evaluation of Non-HIV-Related, Drug-Sensitive Cluster Outbreaks of Tuberculosis with PCR-based DNA Fingerprinting

JM FitzGerald,1 WA Black,2 and D Kunimoto3

1Respiratory Division, Department of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
2Provincial TB Laboratory, BC Centre for Disease Control, Ministry of Health, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
3Department of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Disease, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Copyright © 1996 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


OBJECTIVES: To characterize two cluster outbreaks of tuberculosis by DNA fingerprinting and to evaluate the possibility of their association with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and multiple drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

SETTING: Two clusters of tuberculosis cases in adjoining aboriginal Canadian reserves and a control population.

METHODS: All cases of tuberculosis diagnosed in the two communities and a number of control isolates were fingerprinted using a novel simplified DNA-based technique. Demographic data, purified protein derivative (PPD) skin test response to 5TU PPD, type of disease and HIV serology were also evaluated. Positive cultures were assessed for susceptibility to antituberculous drugs.

RESULTS: Two distinct clusters with five cases in one community and 21 cases in the second were identified. Isolates from both communities differed in their DNA pattern but were identical within communities. Thirteen cases had bacteriologically proven disease and grew susceptible organisms. Serological analysis for HIV infection was carried out in 15 of 18 adults, and all were negative.

CONCLUSIONS: The study shows the potential for the rapid transmission of tuberculosis infection in HIV-negative subjects with susceptible organisms. It further highlights the usefulness of DNA fingerprinting for molecular epidemiology in evaluating particular outbreaks.