Lineage 4/X-family of Mycobacterium tuberculosis is not very notorious, except for the CDC1551 strain. One strain of this family, named Ara50, caused one of the largest tuberculosis outbreaks of the Aragon region, Spain, during the 1990s and remained until 2018. These X-strains are characterised by high transmissibility and by carrying a low copy number of IS6110 in their genomes. Epidemiological data of the 61 patients consisted of inmates, HIV seropositives, intravenous drug users and the homeless. The application of whole-genome sequencing (WGS) to 36 out of 61 isolates, selected by IS6110-RFLP, allowed to confirm 32 as recent transmissions. We found 10 SNPs in genes considered as virulence factors, five of them specific of this strain. WGS identified three sub-clusters (CLSs). The largest one, sub-CLS 1, included 10 cases. Seven of them shared a SNP in the mce3C gene, considered a virulence factor gene. Sub-CLS 2 involved familiar cases, and no link was known for sub-CLS 3. Finally, the strain showed efficacy in latency as a confirmed epidemiological link was established between two cases, with 6 years of distance in their diagnosis. This outbreak study combined epidemiological and molecular analyses in order to elucidate tuberculosis transmission.
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