Outcomes of tuberculosis positive non-injection drug users in Harris County from October 1995 through September 2004

Marsha Lynn Feske, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Background. The population-based Houston Tuberculosis Initiative (HTI) study has enrolled and gathered demographic, social, behavioral, and disease related data on more than 80% of all reported Mycobacterium Tuberculosis (MTB) cases and 90% of all culture positive patients in Houston/Harris County over a 9 year period (from October 1995-September 2004). During this time period 33% (n=1210) of HTI MTB cases have reported a history of drug use. Of those MTB cases reporting a history of drug use, a majority of them (73.6%), are non-injection drug users (NIDUs). Other than HIV, drug use is the single most important risk factor for progression from latent to infectious tuberculosis (TB). In addition, drug use is associated with increased transmission of active TB, as seen by the increased number of clonally related strains or clusters (see definition on page 30) found in this population. The deregulatory effects of drug use on immune function are well documented. Associations between drug use and increased morbidity have been reported since the late 1970's. However, limited research focused on the immunological consequence of non-injection drug use and its relation to tuberculosis infection among TB patients is available. Methods. TB transmission patterns, symptoms, and prevalence of co-morbidities were a focus of this project. Smoking is known to suppress Nitric Oxide (NO) production and interfere with immune function. In order to limit any possible confounding due to smoking two separate analyses were done. Non-injection drug user smokers (NIDU-S) were compared to non-drug user smokers (NDU-S) and non-injection drug user non-smokers (NIDU-NS) were compared to non-drug user non-smokers (NDU-NS) individually. Specifically proportions, chi-square p-values, and (where appropriate) odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals were calculated to assess characteristics and potential associations of co-morbidities and symptoms of TB among NIDUs HTI TB cases. Results. Significant differences in demographic characteristics and risk factors were found. In addition drug users were found to have a decreased risk for cancer, diabetes mellitus, and chronic pulmonary disease. They were at increased risk of having HIV/AIDS diagnosis, liver disease, and trauma related morbidities. Drug users were more likely to have pulmonary TB disease, and a significantly increased amount of clonally related strains of TB or "clusters" were seen in both smokers and non-smoker drug users when compared to their non-drug user counterparts. Drug users are more likely to belong to print groups (clonally related TB strains with matching spoligotypes) including print one and print three and the Beijing family group, s1. Drug users were found to be no more likely to experience drug resistance to TB therapy and were likely to be cured of disease upon completion of therapy. Conclusion. Drug users demographic and behavioral risk factors put them at an increased risk contracting and spreading TB disease throughout the community. Their increased levels of clustering are evidence of recent transmission and the significance of certain print groups among this population indicate the transmission is from within the social family. For these reasons a focus on this "at risk population" is critical to the success of future public health interventions. Successful completion of directly observed therapy (DOT), the tracking of TB outbreaks and incidence through molecular characterization, and increased diagnostic strategies have led to the stabilization of TB incidence in Houston, Harris County over the past 9 years and proven that the Houston Tuberculosis Initiative has played a critical role in the control and prevention of TB transmission.

Subject Area

Public health|Epidemiology

Recommended Citation

Feske, Marsha Lynn, "Outcomes of tuberculosis positive non-injection drug users in Harris County from October 1995 through September 2004" (2008). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1450531.