Volume 98, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



Primary transmission is an important driver of the global epidemic of resistance to tuberculosis drugs. A few studies have compared tuberculosis infection in contacts of index cases with different drug-resistant profiles, suggesting that contacts of multidrug-resistant (MDR) tuberculosis cases are at higher risk. Repeated tuberculosis exposure in contacts of MDR tuberculosis patients through recurrent tuberculosis may modify this relationship. We compared tuberculosis infection in household contacts of MDR and drug-susceptible (DS) tuberculosis patients from six cities in southeastern China and investigated whether repeated tuberculosis exposure was a mediating factor. Tuberculosis infection was defined as a tuberculin skin test induration ≥ 10 mm. In all, 111 (28.0%) of 397 household contacts of MDR tuberculosis patients and 165 (24.7%) of 667 contacts of DS tuberculosis index cases were infected with tuberculosis. In a multivariate model not including the previous tuberculosis exposure, contacts of MDR tuberculosis patients had a higher likelihood of tuberculosis infection (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.37; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.01–1.84; = 0.041). In a separate multivariate model adjusted for the previous tuberculosis exposure, the odds ratio of tuberculosis infection flipped and contacts of MDR cases were now at lower risk for tuberculosis infection (AOR = 0.55; 95% CI = 0.38–0.81; = 0.003). These findings suggest prior tuberculosis exposure in contacts strongly mediates the relationship between tuberculosis infection and the index drug resistance profile. Prior studies showing lower risk of developing tuberculosis among contacts of MDR tuberculosis patients may be partially explained by a lower rate of tuberculosis infection at baseline.

[open-access] This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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  • Received : 20 Apr 2017
  • Accepted : 14 Oct 2017
  • Published online : 04 Dec 2017

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