Department of Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York.
Background. Extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-tuberculosis) is a global public health threat, but few data exist elucidating factors driving this epidemic. The initial XDR-tuberculosis report from South Africa suggested transmission is an important factor, but detailed epidemiologic and molecular analyses were not available for further characterization.Methods. We performed a retrospective, observational study among XDR-tuberculosis patients to identify hospital-associated epidemiologic links. We used spoligotyping, IS6110-based restriction fragment-length polymorphism analysis, and sequencing of resistance-determining regions to identify clusters. Social network analysis was used to construct transmission networks among genotypically clustered patients.Results. Among 148 XDR-tuberculosis patients, 98% were infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and 59% had smear-positive tuberculosis. Nearly all (93%) were hospitalized while infectious with XDR-tuberculosis (median duration, 15 days; interquartile range: 10-25 days). Genotyping identified a predominant cluster comprising 96% of isolates. Epidemiologic links were identified for 82% of patients; social network analysis demonstrated multiple generations of transmission across a highly interconnected network.Conclusions. The XDR-tuberculosis epidemic in Tugela Ferry, South Africa, has been highly clonal. However, the epidemic is not the result of a point-source outbreak; rather, a high degree of interconnectedness allowed multiple generations of nosocomial transmission. Similar to the outbreaks of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis in the 1990s, poor infection control, delayed diagnosis, and a high HIV prevalence facilitated transmission. Important lessons from those outbreaks must be applied to stem further expansion of this epidemic.
After service in the British SAS Regiment the author became a physician and then an orthopaedic surgeon.
He has held professorial positions in Canada, Vietnam and the United States, practiced and taught orthopaedic surgery in three continents and in several wars.
He has extensive experience as an expert witness in court. Somewhere along the way, time was found to operate a four hundred acre mixed farm, a one hundred seat restaurant and to obtain a licence as a flying instructor.
The author's books are available from bookstores, the publishers, or from on-line bookstores such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Indigo/Chapters.