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Measuring ventilation and modelling M. Tuberculosis transmission in indoor congregate settings, rural KwaZulu-Natal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Original languageEnglish
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2016
Externally publishedYes
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


SETTING: Molecular epidemiology suggests that most Mycobacterium tuberculosis transmission in high-burden settings occurs outside the home. OBJECTIVE: To estimate the risk of M. tuberculosis transmission inside public buildings in a high TB burden community in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. DESIGN: Carbon dioxide (CO2) sensors were placed inside eight public buildings. Measurements were used with observations of occupancy to estimate infection risk using an adaptation of the Wells-Riley equation. Ventilation modelling using CONTAM was used to examine the impact of low-cost retrofits on transmission in a health clinic. RESULTS: Measurements indicate that infection risk in the church, classroom and clinic waiting room would be high with typical ventilation, occupancy levels and visit durations. For example, we estimated that health care workers in a clinic waiting room had a 16.9-24.5% annual risk of M. tuberculosis infection. Modelling results indicate that the simple addition of two new windows allowing for cross-ventilation, at a cost of US$330, would reduce the annual risk to health care workers by 57%. CONCLUSIONS: Results indicate that public buildings in this community have a range of ventilation and occupancy characteristics that may influence transmission risks. Simple retrofits may result in dramatic reductions in M. tuberculosis transmission, and intervention studies should therefore be considered.


  • Infection control, South Africa, Wells-Riley equation