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AbstractContact tracing is a key part of tuberculosis prevention and care, aiming to hasten diagnosis and prevent transmission. The proportion of case-contact pairs for which recent transmission occurred and the typical timespans between the index case and their contact accessing care are not known; we aimed to calculate these. We analysed individual-level TB contact tracing data, collected in London from 20/01/2011-31/12/2015, linked to tuberculosis surveillance and MIRU-VNTR 24-locus strain-typing information. Of pairs of index cases and contacts diagnosed with active tuberculosis, 85/314 (27%) had strain typing data available for both. Of these pairs, 79% (67/85) shared indistinguishable isolates, implying probable recent transmission. Of pairs in which both contact and the index case had a social risk factor, 11/11 (100%) shared indistinguishable isolates, compared to 55/75 (75%) of pairs in which neither had a social risk factor (P = 0.06). The median time interval between the index case and their contact accessing care was 42 days (IQR: 16, 96). As over 20% of pairs did probably not involve recent transmission between index case and contact, the effectiveness of contact tracing is not necessarily limited to those circumstances where the index case has transmitted disease to their close contacts.

Original publication





Scientific Reports


Springer Science and Business Media LLC

Publication Date