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HealthInfo Canterbury

Tuberculosis (TB)

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Tuberculosis (TB) is an infection caused by a bacteria (germ). It usually affects a person's lungs, though it can also affect other parts of the body. It can be passed from person to person through coughs and sneezes. TB can be a serious disease but antibiotics can usually cure it.

TB is very common in many parts of the world. This Ministry of Health factsheet lists the countries with high rates of TB. That is why everyone from overseas who wishes to live in New Zealand is checked for active or previous TB infections.

TB still occurs in people born in New Zealand.

TB can stay inactive in your body for some years. This is called latent TB. This may still need to be treated with antibiotics. One test for latent TB is the QuantiFERON TB Gold test. If you have a positive test, your doctor may need to organise further tests to look for active TB.

Children with a higher high risk of catching TB can be immunised with the BCG vaccine. The BCG vaccination page describes which children have a higher risk of catching TB.

Talk to your doctor if you think you could have TB.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by community respiratory physician, Canterbury DHB. Last reviewed May 2017.

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BCG (TB) vaccination

Page reference: 49703

Review key: HITBC-49703