Issues in aging

October 2010

Clinical

Tuberculosis

Prevention in travellers

Volume 39, No.10, October 2010 Pages 743-750

Amy A Neilson

Cora A Mayer

This article on tuberculosis forms part of our travel medicine series for 2010, providing a summary of prevention strategies and vaccinations for infections that may be acquired by travellers. The series aims to provide practical strategies to assist general practitioners in giving travel advice, as a synthesis of multiple information sources which must otherwise be consulted.

Background

Tuberculosis is a disease of significant worldwide prevalence, morbidity and mortality. Multi-drug resistant and extensively drug resistant strains, poverty, and co-endemic human immunodeficiency virus infection have hampered efforts to reduce transmission worldwide.

Objective/s

To outline risk assessment of tuberculosis infection for travellers and discuss potential interventions.

Discussion

Long term travellers to areas of high tuberculosis incidence are potentially at risk of contracting the disease. Infants and children are particularly at risk of severe complications of tuberculosis. There is no consensus about methods to prevent tuberculosis. Health practitioners need to carefully consider the risks and benefits for their patients. Possible strategies include education, personal protection devices, BCG vaccination, tuberculin (Mantoux) skin testing and testing with newer interferon-gamma release assays.

In the past year alone there have been 2 million deaths from tuberculosis and 9 million new infections. There is more tuberculosis today than at any other time in history.1

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Correspondence afp@racgp.org.au

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