Infants born in Australia to mothers from countries with a high prevalence of tuberculosis: to BCG or not to BCG?

Amanda Gwee, Ranmali Rodrigo, Dan Casalaz, Nicole Ritz and Nigel Curtis
Med J Aust 2013; 199 (5): . || doi: 10.5694/mja13.10107
Published online: 2 September 2013

To the Editor: BCG is an effective vaccine to prevent tuberculosis (TB) in young children travelling to countries with a high prevalence of TB.1 Although it does not completely mitigate the risk of developing TB, nor the need for preventive therapy after a significant TB exposure, it provides about 80% protection against the severe forms of TB that affect infants and young children.2 In Australia, routine BCG vaccination ceased in 1985, and vaccination of children now effectively relies on the initiative of parents. A study in the United Kingdom reported that only 6% of parents were aware of national BCG vaccination recommendations.3 We aimed to determine the proportion of mothers from high-TB-prevalence countries giving birth in Australia who were planning to travel to these countries with their newborn child, and to assess their knowledge of the need to BCG-vaccinate their child.

  • 1 Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 2 Mercy Hospital for Women, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 3 Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne and Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 4 University Children’s Hospital, Basel, Switzerland.


Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.

  • 1. Ritz N, Connell TG, Curtis N. To BCG or not to BCG? Preventing travel-associated tuberculosis in children. Vaccine 2008; 26: 5905-5910.
  • 2. Trunz BB, Fine P, Dye C. Effect of BCG vaccination on childhood tuberculous meningitis and miliary tuberculosis worldwide: a meta-analysis and assessment of cost-effectiveness. Lancet 2006; 367: 1173-1180.
  • 3. Gordon M, Roberts H, Odeka E. Knowledge and attitudes of parents and professionals to neonatal BCG vaccination in light of recent UK policy changes: a questionnaire study. BMC Infect Dis 2007; 7: 82.
  • 4. Fulford M, Keystone JS. Health risks associated with visiting friends and relatives in developing countries. Curr Infect Dis Rep 2005; 7: 48-53.


remove_circle_outline Delete Author
add_circle_outline Add Author

Do you have any competing interests to declare? *

I/we agree to assign copyright to the Medical Journal of Australia and agree to the Conditions of publication *
I/we agree to the Terms of use of the Medical Journal of Australia *
Email me when people comment on this article

Online responses are no longer available. Please refer to our instructions for authors page for more information.