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, however this vaccine is not completely effective and only prevents the severe forms of TB such as military TB and TB meningitis and is most beneficial when given in infancy.
The Australian Immunisation Handbook 10th edition, 2013 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
- healthcare workers who are likely to encounter people with TB or those involved in conducting autopsies
- In children who will be travelling to live in countries of high TB prevalence (WHO defines ‘high-risk’ countries as those with an annual incidence of TB of greater than 40 per 100,000 population). BCG may be beneficial, especially in children <5 years and should be discussed with local state/territory TB services or with a paediatric infectious diseases specialist
Tuberculosis is a notifiable disease in Australia and clinicians and laboratories must report all cases to Public Health services.