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Free Content Tuberculosis among foreign-born persons in New York City, 1992–1994: implications for tuberculosis control

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OBJECTIVE: To study the pattern of transmission of tuberculosis (TB) among foreign-born persons living in New York City.

DESIGN: A retrospective multicenter study comparing 158 foreign-born patients to 231 US-born patients diagnosed with TB between 1992 and 1994. The patients were stratified according to their Mycobacterium tuberculosis isolate DNA fingerprint patterns.

RESULTS: Nineteen (16%) of 122 isolates from foreign-born TB patients and 75 (42%) of 180 isolates from US-born TB patients had DNA fingerprint patterns (cluster patterns) indicative of recent exogenous transmission (P < 0.001). All cluster pattern strains from foreign-born cases were identical to those found among US-born patients. The likelihood of infection with a cluster pattern strain among foreign-born persons increased with duration of residence in the US, and was significantly associated with being homeless (P < 0.05), or having multidrug-resistant TB (P = 0.00072).

CONCLUSION: Although most (84%) cases of TB among foreign-born persons in New York City appear to result from reactivation of infections they acquired abroad, the ones who acquire new infections become infected with strains that are already circulating among the US-born TB patients in New York City, and they have risk factors similar to those faced by US-born tuberculosis patients.

Keywords: DNA fingerprinting; immigration; tuberculosis

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Division of International Medicine and Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Cornell University Medical College, New York, New York, USA 2: The Methodist Hospital, New York, New York, USA 3: St. Barnabas Hospital, New York, New York, USA 4: The New York Hospital Medical Center of Queens, New York, New York, USA 5: The Catholic Medical Center, New York, New York, USA 6: The New York Downtown Hospital, New York, New York, USA 7: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York, USA

Publication date: 1997-12-01

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  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease publishes articles on all aspects of lung health, including public health-related issues such as training programmes, cost-benefit analysis, legislation, epidemiology, intervention studies and health systems research. The IJTLD is dedicated to the continuing education of physicians and health personnel and the dissemination of information on tuberculosis and lung health world-wide.

    Certain IJTLD articles are selected for translation into French, Spanish, Chinese or Russian. They are available on the Union website

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