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fitfortravel

Travel health information for people travelling abroad from the UK

Tuberculosis

Introduction

Tuberculosis is found throughout the world. Areas of particular risk include the whole of South America, Africa (sub-Saharan and North West) and the tropical Asia-Pacific regions, including the Indian subcontinent and Indonesia.

Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection of the mycobacterium tuberculosis family. It is commonly spread through respiratory contact but the disease can affect any part of the body. The disease can also be spread through infected unpasteurised milk.

The Illness

Tuberculosis symptoms are varied and can depend upon the part of the body that has been infected. General symptoms include fever, loss of appetite, weight loss, night sweats and tiredness.

Respiratory tuberculosis can cause persistent, productive cough and may be accompanied by blood-streaked sputum. 

Treatment

Treatment for tuberculosis is carried out in specialist medical centres using combination drug therapy.

Recommendations for Travellers

In the United Kingdom, routine BCG vaccination for teenagers was discontinued in 2005.

BCG may be required for those who have not previously been vaccinated and to tuberculin negative individuals according to the destination and the nature of travel. The vaccine is recommended for those under 16 years of age who are going to live and work with local people for more than three months in an area where the incidence of tuberculosis is high.

If you have concerns regarding exposure to tuberculosis and travel please speak to your travel health care provider for more information. 

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