Overseas travel and risk of tuberculosis
Tuberculosis (TB) remains a common disease in many parts of the world. People travelling to high TB risk countries, especially for a prolonged period are at increased risk of being infected with TB through being exposed to people with infectious TB. If infected, young children are at high risk of developing serious forms of the disease, such as TB meningitis.
BCG vaccination is recommended for children aged less than 5 years if travelling to a country where there is a high risk of TB, for 3 months or more. A link to the list of countries where the risk of TB infection is high is provided at the bottom of the page.
However, supply of BCG vaccine in Australia is currently limited and in some instances it may be difficult to get your child vaccinated prior to travel.
Signs and symptoms of tuberculosis in children
TB infection does not cause any symptoms, however children infected with TB can sometimes quickly become sick with serious TB disease. TB disease can affect any part of the body and symptoms are varied. Common symptoms of TB include fever, tiredness, sweating at night time and weight loss. When TB is in the lungs it can cause cough and chest pain. Children may just have an enlarged lymph node (“gland”), such as around the neck or under the jaw, as the only sign of TB.
Screening for tuberculosis after overseas travel
If you are travelling with children aged less than 5 years to a country with a high risk of TB, and staying there 3 months or more, and you are unable to obtain BCG before you leave, it is recommended that your children have a test to check for TB infection when you return to Australia. If your child has been infected with TB, treatment can be given to prevent them becoming sick with TB disease. TB testing and treatment are provided free of charge in NSW. Contact your local TB service to arrange an appointment.
List of countries where there is a high risk of tuberculosis
Contact your local TB service for more information