Tuberculosis Vaccination: Causes And Symptoms Of TB Infection

Question: I got a TB shot on Thursday and two days later it was like a rash, what is that, there is a small bump on my arm.

Answer: You are probably referring to tuberculosis vaccine (TB shot) called BCG vaccine. Bacillus calmette- Guerin is a vaccine against tuberculosis prepared from live attenuated tuberculous bacillus.

It is used to protect the person from tuberculosis. It has to be administered intradermally by a trained nurse who knows the technique of administration. The vaccine is given intradermaly as a single shot in the arm, in the deltoid region of the arm.

Mild rash at the site of the injection is a local reaction which subsides after 2 to three days. Some time abscess can develop, and use of antibiotics may be needed in such cases. The vaccine leaves a characteristic scar at the site of injection.

The other use of BCG vaccine is as its use in chemotherapy in the treatment of cancer of urinary bladder. Long term side effects of tuberculosis vaccine are uncommon.

Causes And Symptoms Of Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is a disease caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis can affect many parts of the body such as lungs, intestine, brain, bones, skin, kidney etc.

However, pulmonary (lung) tuberculosis still remains the major public health problem in most developing countries. The spread of germs is through droplets that are coughed from an infected individual. The bacilli thus entering may be killed or may multiply or remain dormant for years.

If the immune system is weak, the bacteria multiply giving rise to tuberculosis infection. The primary symptoms of pulmonary tuberculosis are low grade fever, night sweats, cough, weight loss, decreased appetite, lymph node enlargement etc. Once detected, tuberculosis in majority of cases is treated with anti tuberculosis remedies.

This is brief description of tuberculosis disease.

Tuberculosis can affect different organs, and certain symptoms may differ according to the organ affected. For example if brain is affected, it is called tubercular meningitis. The prominent symptoms are fever, severe headache, constant vomiting, and all other symptoms of tuberculosis. If kidney is affected, there is passage of blood from urine aside from other common symptoms. Tuberculosis of intestine consists of pain in abdomen with all other symptoms of TB.

TB Vaccine Contraindications

In developing countries all infants are given this vaccine. However, in many developed countries only people who are at risk of suffering from this disease are given TB shots. This group includes people who are exposed to a person suffering from lung tuberculosis, and health care workers taking care of patients suffering from tuberculosis.

In certain people TB shots are contraindicated and they are:

  • Pregnant women.
  • Person suffering from skin infection or burns.
  • Children who have low immunity, such as children infected with HIV infection.
  • Patients undergoing chemotherapy.