What is Tuberculosis?
Tuberculosis is a bacterial disease that most commonly
affects the lungs.
It can also affect other major areas such as the
bones and joints and kidneys.
Tuberculosis is spread from person to person via
droplets in the air from coughing or sneezing. On rare occasions,
it is spread via contaminated milk in the tropics.
Once an individual is infected they can remain without
symptoms or go on to experience weight loss and general ill health.
Tuberculosis most commonly affects the lungs and is accompanied
by persistent coughing, blood stained sputum (phlegm), chest pain
Who is at risk of Tuberculosis?
Tuberculosis is found all over the world with China
and India having the highest number of cases and Africa having
the most deaths. In the UK, there has been a 25% increase in cases
in the last ten years mainly among those from Asian backgrounds.
TB can only be caught from someone who already has
In the UK, routine vaccination of all school children
is no longer practiced (DOH July 2005). A new vaccination programme
now targets those children and adults at highest risk to the disease.
For those travelling to high-risk areas, such as
Africa, Southeast Asia and parts of South America, proof of immunity
How can I prevent Tuberculosis?
Partial protection is gained through BCG
vaccination. The vaccination is only given at the presentation
of a negative mantoux or heaf test. Only newborn babies are vaccinated
without the test.
It is essential for all travellers going overseas
to have a test and the subsequent vaccination if required. It is
possible that immunity after vaccination is not lifelong and therefore
all persons moving abroad to work in risk areas should consider
testing, especially if the vaccination scar is not present. For
advice regarding BCG, you should make an appointment with your family
doctor or Travel clinic nurse.
For those with TB, treatment involves a variety
of antibiotics taken over a period of months. The treatment will
cure the disease ONLY if the treatment is continued until the end
of the course. Because many people feel better, they stop taking
the medication and this results in a recurrence of the disease.
NON-UK VISITORS TO THIS SITE:
Please note that the recommendations in other countries
may differ from those in the UK and local advice should be sought.
Resources for TB
has provided answers to many common concerns about the jab
Immunisation Information Service has produced multi-lingual
fact sheets about TB and other vaccine preventable diseases
has a collection of books covering history and medical treatment
of TB including Timebomb:
The Global Epidemic of Multi-drug-resistant Tuberculosis (Paperback)
Health Protection Agency provides excellent information and reports
with latest health reports and epidemiological data from the UK