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Tuberculosis

did you know?

Most people who have tuberculosis do not show any symptoms.

Tuberculosis - What is it?

Tuberculosis is an infection that usually affects the lungs and is caused by a type of bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Most infected people don't get any symptoms, however they still require treatment as tuberculosis can reactivate years later. Approximately 10% of infected people will at some point in their lifetime develop an active form of the disease, where they show symptoms.

Tuberculosis - Who is at risk?

The risk of tuberculosis infection is low for most travellers. Risk is greatest when travelling to areas with a high number of tuberculosis cases including parts of Africa, Asia, as well as parts of Central and South America. The risk of infection in children travelling to areas with high numbers of tuberculosis cases depends on age, length of stay and how common tuberculosis is at the destination.

Other people may be at risk of tuberculosis infection. Please speak to your doctor regarding your individual circumstances.

Tuberculosis - How is it spread?

Tuberculosis is spread from person-to-person through air droplets. When an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks, the bacteria is spread through the air. The chances of the disease spreading increase when a person spends a relatively long time in a closed environment with someone who has tuberculosis.

Tuberculosis - What are the symptoms?

Tuberculosis can affect any part of the body. However, 70 to 80% of cases affect the lungs with symptoms including cough, fever, sweats, tiredness, weight loss and coughing up blood.

Most infected individuals don't get any symptoms. There is a 10% lifetime risk of the infection developing into an active form of the disease. This risk increases in those with a weakened immune system. The disease also progresses quickly in infants and the elderly.

This is not a full list of symptoms that can occur following tuberculosis infection. If you feel unwell while travelling or when you return home, make sure you see a doctor as soon as possible.

Tuberculosis - Prevention

Tuberculosis vaccination is not routinely recommended. It is however recommended in situations for those who are considered at higher risk. Please check with your doctor regarding your individual circumstances.

Travellers should avoid crowded environments and close contact or extended periods of time with people who have tuberculosis. Eating or drinking any unpasteurised dairy products while travelling should also be avoided as bovine (cow) tuberculosis can be transmitted through these products.

Tuberculosis - Treatment

Tuberculosis is treated with a combination of antibiotics. Travellers who think they may have been exposed to tuberculosis should see their doctor as soon as possible for a medical assessment.

It is important to plan ahead and see your doctor at least 6 to 8 weeks before you travel to discuss vaccination and travel health.

 

Some side effects may be experienced following vaccination. Please discuss any side effects or concerns with your healthcare professional.

 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE SPEAK TO YOUR HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL

 

AUS/VAC/0048/15. Date of approval: April 2015.