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Canadian Respiratory Journal
Volume 17 (2010), Issue 3, Pages e51-e54
Original Article

The Ontario Universal Typing of Tuberculosis (OUT-TB) Surveillance Program – What It Means to You

Shelly Bolotin,1 David C Alexander,1 Jennifer L Guthrie,1 Steven J Drews,1,2 and Frances Jamieson1,2

1Public Health Laboratory – Toronto, Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion, Canada
2Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Copyright © 2010 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.


BACKGROUND: Tuberculosis (TB) is a serious disease that is transmitted primarily by the airborne route. Effective disease control and outbreak management requires the timely diagnosis, isolation and treatment of infected individuals with active disease; contact tracing to identify secondary cases likely to benefit from treatment of latent infection; and laboratory identification or confirmation of epidemiologically linked cases. TB genotyping enables the comparison of Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC) strains and the identification of cases that may or may not be linked. The increased availability of molecular methods for genotyping has allowed for greater discrimination of MTBC strains and greatly enhanced understanding of TB transmission patterns.

OBJECTIVE: To improve TB surveillance and control in Ontario, the Public Health Laboratories of the Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion has introduced the Ontario Universal Typing of Tuberculosis (OUT-TB) Surveillance Program.

METHODS: The first isolate from every new TB case will be genotyped with two rapid molecular methods: spoligotyping and mycobacterial interspersed repetitive unit-variable-number tandem repeat typing. MTBC isolates with nonunique genotypes and, thus, potentially linked to other TB cases, will also be genotyped by IS6110 restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis.

CONCLUSION: By providing TB control programs using these new genotyping tools, and using traditional and new case investigation methods (eg, social network analysis), this new program will provide a clearer picture of TB in Ontario, and permit more effective use of public health resources and improve disease control.