Tuberculosis - Prevention

Probably the most important form of prevention is to reduce the over-crowded and unsanitary conditions in which many people live. This action reduces the risk of transmitting TB from infected to uninfected people.


The Bacillus Calmette-Guérin vaccine (BCG) is available for use against tuberculosis. A vaccine is a substance that causes the body's immune system to build up resistance to a particular disease. BCG is made from a type of mycobacterium that infects cattle. When injected into humans, it stimulates the immune system against M. tuberculosis. The vaccine, however, is more effective in some groups of people than in others. Scientists are conducting studies to better understand why the vaccine is not as effective in some parts of the population.

Preventative Use of Isoniazid

Isoniazid can be used to prevent the development of TB as well as to treat it. There is no point in giving the drug to everyone, however, since most people never come into contact with someone who has tuberculosis, so their risk of infection is small. However, some people encounter TB carriers often. These people can benefit from taking isoniazid on a regular basis. The treatment involves receiving a dose of isoniazid once every six to twelve months.

Among the groups that should consider the use of isoniazid as a preventative against TB are: health care workers who have contact with TB patients; people who are HIV positive; intravenous drug users; anyone who has had positive PPD results and abnormal chest X rays in the past; people with depressed immune systems; and members of high-risk groups who have had positive PPD tests.

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