Public Health Response to Tuberculosis Outbreak among Persons Experiencing Homelessness, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, 2017–2018

Publication Date: March 2020

Publisher: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S.)

Author(s): Kelzee K. Tibbetts; Randy A. Ottoson; Dean T. Tsukayama

Research Area: Health; Social conditions

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


Tuberculosis (TB) is a greater risk for populations experiencing homelessness. When a TB exposure occurs in a homeless shelter, evaluation of contacts is both urgent and challenging. In 2017, local public health workers initiated a response to a TB outbreak in homeless shelters in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. In this contact investigation, we incorporated multiple techniques to identify, evaluate, and manage patients, including the concentric-circle method to characterize amount of contact, identifying the most frequent sites of sporadic medical care, using electronic medical records, and engaging with medical providers treating this population. Of 298 contacts evaluated, 41 (14%) had latent TB infection and 2 had active TB disease. Our analysis indicated a significant relationship between duration of exposure and positive TB test result (p = 0.001). We encourage local public health departments to expand beyond traditional contact tracing techniques by leveraging partnerships and existing systems to reach contacts exposed in shelters.