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Tuberculosis (Edinb). 2011 Dec;91 Suppl 1:S16-23. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2011 Nov 15.

Giving TB wheels: Public transportation as a risk factor for tuberculosis transmission.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Genomic Medicine, The Methodist Hospital Research Institute, 6670 Bertner, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


Previous geospatial analysis of the well-defined Houston Tuberculosis Initiative (HTI) database identified an association between the use of city-bus transportation (inclusive of time onboard) and Tuberculosis (TB) incidence in Houston/Harris County census tracts (paper submitted). This paper is an extension of those findings. Contact investigations on school buses have reported a high rate of positive tuberculin skin tests in the persons traveling with the index case and have shown an association with bus ride duration. In Houston, city bus routes are veins connecting even the most diverse of populations within the metropolitan area. Among HTI participants, TB patients who reported weekly bus use were more likely to have demographic and social risk factors associated with poverty, immune suppression and health disparities. An equal proportion of bus riders and non-bus riders were cultured for Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB), yet 75% of bus riders were clustered with a mean cluster size of 50.14, indicating recent transmission, compared to 56% of non-bus riders (OR = 2.4, p < 0.001) with a mean cluster size of 28.9 (p < 0.01). Individual bus routes, including one route servicing the local hospitals, were found to be risk factors for endemic MTB clustered strains and the routes themselves geographically connect the census tracts previously identified as having endemic TB.

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