PLoS One 2013 17;8(10):e77635. Epub 2013 Oct 17.
Department of Infection and Immunity, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Background: Eastern province of Saudi Arabia is an industrial zone with large immigrant population and high level of tuberculosis case notification among immigrants. The impact of immigration and current trends of tuberculosis transmission among immigrants and autochthonous population in the region had not been investigated so far using molecular tools.
Methodology: During 2009- 2011, a total of 524 Mycobacterium tuberculosis isolates were collected from the central tuberculosis reference laboratory, representing an estimated 79.2% of the culture-positive tuberculosis cases over the study period in the province. These isolates were genotyped by using 24 locus-based MIRU-VNTR typing and spoligotyping followed by first line drug susceptibility testing. The molecular clustering profiles and phylogenetic diversity of isolates were determined and compared to the geographical origins of the patients.
Principle Findings: Genotyping showed an overall predominance of Delhi/CAS (29.4%), EAI (23.8%) and Ghana (13.3%) lineages, with slightly higher proportions of Delhi/CAS among autochthonous population (33.3 %) and EAI (30.9%) among immigrants. Rate of any drug resistance was 20.2% with 2.5% of multi-drug resistance. Strain cluster analysis indicated 42 clusters comprising 210 isolates, resulting in a calculated recent transmission index of 32.1%. Overall shared cluster ratio was 78.6% while 75.8% were shared between autochthonous population and immigrant population with a predominance of immigrants from South east Asia (40.7%). In contrast, cross national transmission within the immigrant population was limited (24.2%). Younger age (15-30- p value-0.043, 16-45, p value 0.030), Saudi nationality (p value-0.004) and South East Asian origin (p value-0.011) were identified as significant predisposing factors for molecular strain clustering.
Conclusions: The high proportion of molecular clusters shared among the autochthonous and immigrant populations suggests a high permeability of tuberculosis transmission between both populations in the province. These results prompt for the need to strengthen the current tuberculosis control strategies and surveillance programs.