TB Bacillus 1

Vaccination programmes are made available to employees at risk from harmful bacteria and viruses in the workplace.

TB is a bacterial disease which mainly affects the lungs but can affect other parts of the body. In general, only lung TB is infectious. This should be distinguished from latent TB where the TB bacillus lies dormant in the body, and may reactivate in approximately 5-10% of cases. It is not infectious and causes no symptoms or ill health.

Transmission takes place when a person with active infection of the lungs coughs or sneeze expelling TB germs into the air. Close contact for cumulatively 8 hours or more with the infected person is usually needed for transmission to take place. TB infection is generally successfully treated with modern drugs. It can be difficult to diagnose and treatment usually lasts for several months.

Prior to commencing work in an at risk area employees are checked for evidence of TB vaccination (vaccine scar on arm). If no scar is present, the employee is offered an appointment at a TB Clinic in the CSOHD. It is the employee’s own responsibility to attend the clinic. Their immunity status is checked with a tuberculin skin, as many people are already immune. This involves a small skin test on the forearm, which is checked for a reaction two to three days later (Mantoux test). If there is no reaction the individual is then offered TB vaccination if they are under 35 years of age. An alternative blood test known as an IGRA blood test may also be used.