BACKGROUND: Global control of the tuberculosis (TB) epidemic remains poor, especially in high-burden settings where ongoing transmission sustains the epidemic. In such settings, a significant amount of transmission takes place outside the household, and practical approaches to understanding transmission at community level are needed.
OBJECTIVE: To identify and map potential TB transmission `hot spots' across high-burden communities.
SETTING AND DESIGN: Our method draws on data that qualitatively describe a high-burden community in Cape Town, South Africa. Established transmission principles are applied to grade the potential TB transmission risk posed by congregate settings in the community. Geographic information systems (GIS) technology then creates a visual map, locating potential transmission `hot spots' in the community.
RESULTS: Drinking places (shebeens), clinics and churches (often gatherings in confined homes) emerge as gathering places that potentially pose a high transmission risk, particularly if located in overcrowded and impoverished areas of the community.
CONCLUSION: This proof-of-concept study demonstrates that combining qualitative techniques with GIS mapping may improve our understanding of potential TB transmission within a community and guide public health interventions to enhance TB control efforts.
The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (2009) 13 (6) 767-774