Implications of partial immunity on the prospects for tuberculosis control by post-exposure interventions

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One-third of the world population (approximately 2 billion individuals) is currently infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the vast majority harboring a latent infection. As the risk of reactivation is around 10% in a lifetime, it follows that 200 million of these will eventually develop active pulmonary disease. Only therapeutic or post-exposure interventions can tame this vast reservoir of infection. Treatment of latent infections can reduce the risk of reactivation, and there is accumulating evidence that combination with post-exposure vaccines can reduce the risk of reinfection. Here we develop mathematical models to explore the potential of these post-exposure interventions to control tuberculosis on a global scale. Intensive programs targeting recent infections appear generally effective, but the benefit is potentially greater in intermediate prevalence scenarios. Extending these strategies to longer-term persistent infections appears more beneficial where prevalence is low. Finally, we consider that susceptibility to reinfection is altered by therapy, and explore its epidemiological consequences. When we assume that therapy reduces susceptibility to subsequent reinfection, catastrophic dynamics are observed. Thus, a bipolar outcome is obtained, where either small or large reductions in prevalence levels result, depending on the rate of detection and treatment of latent infections. By contrast, increased susceptibility after therapy may induce an increase in disease prevalence and does not lead to catastrophic dynamics. These potential outcomes are silent unless a widespread intervention is implemented.
Original languageUnknown
Pages (from-to)608-617
JournalJournal Of Theoretical Biology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007

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