Simplified Model to Survey Tuberculosis Transmission in Countries Without Systematic Molecular Epidemiology Programs
De La Guardia, Carolina
Del Cid, Pedro
García de Viedma, Darío
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Systematic molecular/genomic epidemiology studies for tuberculosis surveillance cannot be implemented in many countries. We selected Panama as a model for an alternative strategy. Mycobacterial interspersed repetitive unit–variable-number tandem-repeat (MIRU-VNTR) analysis revealed a high proportion (50%) of Mycobacterium tuberculosis isolates included in 6 clusters (A–F) in 2 provinces (Panama and Colon). Cluster A corresponded to the Beijing sublineage. Whole-genome sequencing (WGS) differentiated clusters due to active recent transmission, with low single-nucleotide polymorphism–based diversity (cluster C), from clusters involving long-term prevalent strains with higher diversity (clusters A, B). Prospective application in Panama of 3 tailored strain–specific PCRs targeting marker single-nucleotide polymorphisms identified from WGS data revealed that 31.4% of incident cases involved strains A–C and that the Beijing strain was highly represented and restricted mainly to Colon. Rational integration of MIRU-VNTR, WGS, and tailored strain–specific PCRs could be a new model for tuberculosis surveillance in countries without molecular/genomic epidemiology programs.