Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious bacterial disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis,1 TB spreads from person-to-person when an infectious person coughs, sneezes, talks or spits,4 releasing the bacteria into the air.  A person needs to breathe in only a few of these grains to become infected. The risk of TB infection is low for most travellers.1,3 To become infected a person generally has to spend a relatively long time in a closed environment with someone who has TB.1,3

TB is present worldwide with the highest number of cases occurring in Africa and South-East Asia.1  Speak to your doctor at least 6–8 weeks before you travel2 to check if you need to take any precautionary measures against TB. 

Tuberculosis FAQs

  • Tuberculosis - What is it?

    Tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious bacterial disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis,1 and it’s primarily a disease of the lungs.1  TB is present worldwide with the highest number of cases occurring in Africa and South-East Asia.1  Speak to your doctor at least 6–8 weeks before you travel 2 to check if you need to take any precautionary measures against TB.  The risk of TB infection is low for most travellers.1,3 To become infected a person generally has to spend a relatively long time in a closed environment with someone who has TB.1,3

  • Tuberculosis - How is it spread?

    TB spreads from person-to-person when an infectious person coughs, sneezes, talks or spits,4 releasing the bacteria into the air.  A person needs to breath in only a few of these grains to become infected. 4  In countries with a high number of TB cases the circumstances that may increase your chance of getting infected are:1,

    • Long-term visits or extended stays (generally over 3 months)
    • Routine contact with people in hospitals, prisons or homeless shelters     
  • Tuberculosis - What are the symptoms?

    Most infected individuals don’t get any symptoms; however, they have a 5 to 10% chance of developing the disease at any point during their lifetime. 3,4 The risk of progression is influenced by age and immune system status.4  Symptoms to be aware of include:4

    • cough
    • fever
    • sweats
    • weight loss
    • coughing up blood

    Other forms of TB can also occur throughout the body and in the membrane lining the brain.4  In some cases, TB may result in death.3,4

  • Tuberculosis - How can it be prevented?

    Travellers should avoid close contact or prolonged time with known TB patients in crowded, enclosed environments (for example, clinics, hospitals, prisons, or homeless shelters).3

    New Zealand health authorities do not recommend routine vaccinating against TB and should only be used in certain situations and age groups.5  You should be up-to-date with the current standard vaccinations recommended for your age.5

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