Prevention of TB infection
The main way that TB is prevented in children is by the use of the TB BCG vaccine. TB can also be prevented in children by diagnosing and treating cases of active TB among adults. It is usually adults, particularly adults in the same household, who spread TB to children.
How to prevent TB infection
- Cover the mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing
- Open windows and doors at home and in crowded rooms, schools, buildings and taxis
- Strengthen the immune system by eating healthy and exercising
- Visit the clinic after being in contact with someone with TB show any of the symptoms of TB
- Children under 5 years who have been in close contact with TB patients should be taken to the clinic for TB preventive treatment.
Should you or your child show symptoms of TB visit the clinic for a free TB test. Tests will be done and you will be given medication right away if the test is positive for TB. TB medication is free.
TB can be cured if treated early. It is very important to take the medication as prescribed by a health care worker and completing the treatment.
TB treatment lasts at least six months. A combination of different medicines is used to ensure that all the germs hiding in the different parts of the body are removed.
Patients may begin to feel better two weeks after starting, and people with pulmonary TB normally become non-infectious during this time. However, it’s vital that patients complete their treatment, so that the TB bacteria are completely killed off in the body, preventing symptoms from returning and the risk of bacteria becoming drug-resistant.
Drug-resistant TB can occur when the TB treatment is interrupted or stopped or a patient is diagnosed with a form of TB that does not respond to the common medicines drugs used to treat TB.
TB and HIV
People living with HIV are more likely than others to become sick with TB. Worldwide, TB is one of the leading causes of death among people living with HIV. HIV weakens people’s immune systems, increasing the risk of opportunistic infections such as TB. People living with HIV should get tested for TB frequently to ensure early detection.
TB medication and antiretroviral therapy (ART) need to be carefully monitored to avoid adverse drug interactions and side effects in patients. Treatment may take longer in people living with HIV, due to the likelihood the TB spreading to other parts of the body. People living with HIV remain vulnerable to TB even after being cured.
Fortunately, TB is curable and HIV can be treated. Early diagnosis of both is key to reducing deaths and complications from co-infection.