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An evaluation of tuberculosis contact investigations against national standards
  1. Sean M Cavany1,2,
  2. Tom Sumner1,
  3. Emilia Vynnycky1,2,
  4. Clare Flach3,
  5. Richard G White1,
  6. H Lucy Thomas4,
  7. Helen Maguire5,6,
  8. Charlotte Anderson5
  1. 1 TB Modelling Group, TB Centre and CMMID, Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  2. 2 Statistics, Modelling and Economics Department, Public Health England, London, UK
  3. 3 Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London , UK
  4. 4 Respiratory Diseases Department, Public Health England, London, UK
  5. 5 Field Epidemiology Services, Public Health England, London, UK
  6. 6 Department of Infection and Population Health, University College London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Sean M Cavany, TB Modelling Group, TB Centre and CMMID, Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, UK; sean.cavany{at}


Background Contact tracing is a key element in England's 2015 collaborative TB strategy, although proposed indicators of successful contact tracing remain undescribed.

Methods We conducted descriptive and multivariable analyses of contact tracing of TB cases in London between 1 July 2012 and 31 December 2015 using cohort review data from London's TB Register, identifying characteristics associated with improved indicators and yield.

Results Of the pulmonary TB cases notified, 60% (2716/4561) had sufficient information for inclusion. Of these, 91% (2481/2716) had at least 1 contact (median: 4/case (IQR: 2–6)) identified, with 86% (10 251/11 981) of these contacts evaluated. 4.1% (177/4328), 1.3% (45/3421) and 0.70% (51/7264) of evaluated contacts of pulmonary smear-positive, pulmonary smear-negative and non-pulmonary cases, respectively, had active disease. Cases who were former prisoners or male were less likely to have at least one contact identified than those never imprisoned or female, respectively. Cases diagnosed at clinics with more directly observed therapy or social workers were more likely to have one or more contacts identified. Contacts screened at a different clinic to their index case or of male index cases were less likely to be evaluated than those screened at the same clinic or of women, respectively; yield of active disease was similar by sex. 10% (490/4850) of evaluated child contacts had latent TB infection.

Conclusions These are the first London-wide estimates of TB contact tracing indicators which are important for monitoring the strategy's success and informing risk assessment of index cases. Understanding why differences in indicators occur between groups could improve contact tracing outcomes.

  • Tuberculosis

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  • Contributors SMC conceived and designed the work with input from TS, EV, RGW, HLT, HM and CA. CA and HM are responsible for the acquisition and maintenance of the data. SMC undertook the analysis with advice from all other authors. All authors contributed to the interpretation of the data. SMC wrote the first draft of the paper and all authors contributed to subsequent drafts. All authors approve the work for publication and agree to be accountable for the work.

  • Funding SMC is funded by a joint PHE-LSHTM studentship in Infectious Disease Modelling. RGW is funded by the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) (under the MRC/DFID Concordat agreement that is also part of the EDCTP2 programme supported by the European Union (MR/J005088/1)), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (TB Modelling and Analysis Consortium: OPP1084276, and SA Modelling for Policy: #OPP1110334) and UNITAID (4214-LSHTM-Sept15; PO #8477-0-600). CA, EV, HM and HLT are employed by PHE, a government agency, and received no other source of funding. TS is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (SA Modelling for Policy: #OPP1110334).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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