Latent tuberculosis infection in foreign-born communities: Import vs. transmission in The Netherlands derived through mathematical modelling.
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TitleLatent tuberculosis infection in foreign-born communities: Import vs. transmission in The Netherlands derived through mathematical modelling.
Published inPlos One 2018; 13(2):e192282
PubliekssamenvattingWhile tuberculosis (TB) represents a significant disease burden worldwide, low-incidence countries strive to reach the WHO target of pre-elimination by 2035. Screening for TB in immigrants is an important component of the strategy to reduce the TB burden in low-incidence settings. An important option is the screening and preventive treatment of latent TB infection (LTBI). Whether this policy is worthwhile depends on the extent of transmission within the country, and introduction of new cases through import. Mathematical transmission models of TB have been used to identify key parameters in the epidemiology of TB and estimate transmission rates. An important application has also been to investigate the consequences of policy scenarios. Here, we formulate a mathematical model for TB transmission within the Netherlands to estimate the size of the pool of latent infections, and to determine the share of importation-either through immigration or travel- versus transmission within the Netherlands. We take into account importation of infections due to immigration, and travel to the country of origin, focusing on the three ethnicities most represented among foreign-born TB cases (after exclusion of those overrepresented among asylum seekers): Moroccans, Turkish and Indonesians. We fit a system of ordinary differential equations to the data from the Netherlands Tuberculosis Registry on (extra-)pulmonary TB cases from 1995-2013. We estimate that about 27% of Moroccans, 25% of Indonesians, and 16% of Turkish, are latently infected. Furthermore, we find that for all three foreign-born communities, immigration is the most important source of LTBI, but the extent of within-country transmission is much lower (about half) for the Turkish and Indonesian communities than for the Moroccan. This would imply that contact investigation would have a greater yield in the latter community than in the former. Travel remains a minor factor contributing LTBI, suggesting that targeting returning travelers might be less effective at preventing LTBI than immigrants upon entry in the country.