Estimating Tuberculosis Transmission Risks in a Primary Care Clinic in South Africa: Modeling of Environmental and Clinical Data.

Zürcher, Kathrin; Riou, Julien; Morrow, Carl; Ballif, Marie; Koch, Anastasia; Bertschinger, Simon; Warner, Digby F; Middelkoop, Keren; Wood, Robin; Egger, Matthias; Fenner, Lukas (2022). Estimating Tuberculosis Transmission Risks in a Primary Care Clinic in South Africa: Modeling of Environmental and Clinical Data. Journal of infectious diseases, 225(9), pp. 1642-1652. Oxford University Press 10.1093/infdis/jiab534

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Congregate settings, such as healthcare clinics, may play an essential role in Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) transmission. Using patient and environmental data, we studied transmission at a primary care clinic in South Africa.


We collected patient movements, cough frequency, and clinical data, and measured indoor carbon dioxide (CO2) levels, relative humidity, and Mtb genomes in the air. We used negative binomial regression model to investigate associations.


We analyzed 978 unique patients who contributed 14 795 data points. The median patient age was 33 (interquartile range [IQR], 26-41) years, and 757 (77.4%) were female. Overall, median CO2 levels were 564 (IQR 495-646) parts per million and were highest in the morning. Median number of coughs per day was 466 (IQR, 368-503), and overall median Mtb DNA copies/μL/day was 4.2 (IQR, 1.2-9.5). We found an increased presence of Mtb DNA in the air of 32% (95% credible interval, 7%-63%) per 100 additional young adults (aged 15-29 years) and 1% (0-2%) more Mtb DNA per 10% increase of relative humidity. Estimated cumulative transmission risks for patients attending the clinic monthly for at least 1 hour range between 9% and 29%.


We identified young adults and relative humidity as potentially important factors for transmission risks in healthcare clinics. Our approach should be used to detect transmission and evaluate infection control interventions.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM)

UniBE Contributor:

Zürcher, Kathrin, Riou, Julien Yannis, Ballif, Marie, Bertschinger, Simon Michael, Egger, Matthias, Fenner, Lukas


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 360 Social problems & social services




Oxford University Press


[4] Swiss National Science Foundation




Andrea Flükiger-Flückiger

Date Deposited:

28 Jan 2022 19:38

Last Modified:

20 Jan 2023 00:25

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Mycobacterium tuberculosis biosampling carbon dioxide cough humidity infection control intervention primary care clinic transmission tuberculosis




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