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Keywords:

  • disease clusters;
  • genotypes;
  • migration;
  • tuberculosis

Regardless of destination, immigrants arrive with health profiles typical of people in their previous surroundings. Thus, immigrants change the epidemiological profile of destination communities, and immigrant neighborhoods may represent islands of infectious disease. Genotyping has emerged as a useful surveillance tool to track the spread of disease at the molecular level. Yet the spatial distribution of infectious disease at the molecular level associated with migration and immigrant neighborhoods has received little attention. Using molecular genotyping to characterize M. tuberculosis isolated from tuberculosis cases, this article analyzes spatial variations of unique molecular M. tuberculosis strains by zip code in Tarrant County, Texas. The results suggest that immigrant neighborhoods have higher rates of unique isolates of tuberculosis (suggestive of remote transmission) compared to neighborhoods occupied by the native-born. Neighborhoods dominated by the native-born have higher rates of clustered isolates (suggestive of recent transmission). Therefore, in addition to being culturally distinct, immigrant neighborhoods may also be pathogenically distinct from surrounding neighborhoods.