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Tuberculosis (Edinb). 2011 Dec;91 Suppl 1:S24-33. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2011 Nov 16.

Including the third dimension: a spatial analysis of TB cases in Houston Harris County.

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


To reach the tuberculosis (TB) elimination goals established by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), measures must be taken to speed the currently stagnant TB elimination rate and curtail a future peak in TB incidence. Increases in TB incidence have historically coincided with immigration, poverty, and joblessness; all situations that are currently occurring worldwide. Effective TB elimination strategies will require the geographical elucidation of areas within the U.S. that have endemic TB, and systematic surveillance of the locations and location-based risk factors associated with TB transmission. Surveillance data was used to assess the spatial distribution of cases, the yearly TB incidence by census tract, and the statistical significance of case clustering. The analysis revealed that there are neighborhoods within Houston/Harris County that had a heavy TB burden. The maximum yearly incidence varied from 245/100,000-754/100,000 and was not exclusively dependent of the number of cases reported. Geographically weighted regression identified risk factors associated with the spatial distribution of cases such as: poverty, age, Black race, and foreign birth. Public transportation was also associated with the spatial distribution of cases and census tracts identified as high incidence were found to be irregularly clustered within communities of varied SES.

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