Prevention of TB infection lies primarily in identifying, isolating, and treating those who have it before they pass it on to others.
A vaccine called BCG (bacillus Calmette-Guerin) is often routinely administered in parts of the world where TB is much more common, although studies have shown that this vaccine will not prevent every case of TB.
The Australian Immunisation Handbook 9th edition, 2008 immunisation programme recommends BCG vaccines for:
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island neonates living in regions of high TB incidence
- neonates born to parents with leprosy or a family history of leprosy
- children <5 years of age who will be travelling to live in countries of high TB prevalence for longer than 3 months (WHO defines ‘high-risk’ countries as those with an annual incidence of TB in excess of 100 per 100 000 population(see World Health Organization: Tuberculosis)
- healthcare workers involved in conducting autopsies.
State and Territory guidelines should be consulted for advice on vaccination of the following groups of individuals:
- healthcare workers who may be at high risk of exposure to drug-resistant cases
- neonates weighing <2.5 kg
- children ≥5 years and <16 years of age who will be travelling or living for extended periods in countries with a high prevalence of tuberculosis.
Tuberculosis is a notifiable disease in Australia and clinicians and laboratories must report all cases to Public Health services.