The Spectrum of Tuberculosis Disease in an Urban Ugandan Community and Its Health Facilities

Emily A. Kendall, Peter J. Kitonsa, Annet Nalutaaya, K. Caleb Erisa, James Mukiibi, Olga Nakasolya, David Isooba, Yeonsoo Baik, Katherine O. Robsky, Midori Kato-Maeda, Adithya Cattamanchi, Achilles Katamba, David W. Dowdy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: New, sensitive diagnostic tests facilitate identification and investigation of milder forms of tuberculosis (TB) disease. We used community-based TB testing with the Xpert MTB/RIF Ultra assay ("Ultra") to characterize individuals with previously undiagnosed TB and compare them to those from the same community who were diagnosed with TB through routine care. Methods: We offered community-based sputum Ultra testing to adult residents of a well-defined area (population 34 000 adults) in Kampala, Uganda, via door-to-door screening and venue-based testing, then used detailed interview and laboratory testing to characterize TB-positive individuals. We compared these individuals to residents diagnosed with pulmonary TB at local health facilities and a representative sample of residents without TB (controls). Results: Of 12 032 residents with interpretable Ultra results, 113 (940 [95% confidence interval {CI}, 780-1130] per 100 000) tested positive, including 71 (63%) positive at the lowest (trace) level. A spectrum of TB disease was observed in terms of chronic cough (93% among health facility-diagnosed cases, 77% among residents with positive community-based Ultra results at levels above trace, 33% among trace-positive community participants, and 18% among TB-negative controls), TB symptom prevalence (99%, 87%, 60%, and 38%, respectively), and C-reactive protein (75th percentile: 101 mg/L, 28 mg/L, 6 mg/L, and 4 mg/L, respectively). Community-diagnosed cases were less likely than health facility-diagnosed cases to have human immunodeficiency virus coinfection or previous TB. The specificity of Ultra was 99.4% (95% CI, 99.2%-99.5%) relative to a single spot sputum culture. Conclusions: People with undiagnosed prevalent TB in the community have different characteristics than those diagnosed with pulmonary TB in health facilities. Newer diagnostic tests may identify a group of people with early or very mild disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E1035-E1043
JournalClinical Infectious Diseases
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 15 2021


  • Xpert MTB/RIF Ultra
  • active case-finding
  • prevalent tuberculosis
  • subclinical tuberculosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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