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PLoS One. 2011 May 12;6(5):e19548. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0019548.

Transmission pattern of drug-resistant tuberculosis and its implication for tuberculosis control in eastern rural China.

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Key Laboratory of Public Health Safety, Ministry of Education, and Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, Fudan University, Shanghai, China.



Transmission patterns of drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) may be influenced by differences in socio-demographics, local tuberculosis (TB) endemicity and efficaciousness of TB control programs. This study aimed to investigate the impact of DOTS on the transmission of drug-resistant TB in eastern rural China.


We conducted a cross-sectional study of all patients diagnosed with drug-resistant TB over a one-year period in two rural Chinese counties with varying lengths of DOTS implementation. Counties included Deqing, with over 11 years' DOTS implementation and Guanyun, where DOTS was introduced 1 year prior to start of this study. We combined demographic, clinical and epidemiologic information with IS6110-based restricted fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) and Spoligotyping analysis of MTB isolates. In addition, we conducted DNA sequencing of resistance determining regions to first-line anti-tuberculosis agents.


Of the 223 drug-resistant isolates, 73(32.7%) isolates were identified with clustered IS6110RFLP patterns. The clustering proportion among total drug-resistant TB was higher in Guanyun than Deqing (26/101.vs.47/122; p,0.04), but not significantly different among the 53 multidrug-resistant isolates (10/18.vs.24/35; p,0.35). Patients with cavitary had increased risk of clustering in both counties. In Guanyun, patients with positive smear test or previous treatment history had a higher clustering proportion. Beijing genotype and isolates resistant to isoniazid and/or rifampicin were more likely to be clustered. Of the 73 patients with clustered drug-resistant isolates, 71.2% lived in the same or neighboring villages. Epidemiological link (household and social contact) was confirmed in 12.3% of the clustered isolates.


Transmission of drug-resistant TB in eastern rural China is characterized by small clusters and limited geographic spread. Our observations highlight the need for supplementing DOTS with additional strategies, including active case finding at the village level, effective treatment for patients with cavities and drug susceptibility testing for patients at increased risk for drug-resistance.

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