My Child has a Contact with a TB Patient

What to do if your child has been exposed to a patient with tuberculosis?

Your child might have been exposed to a patient with tuberculosis.

How does TB spread?

  • Tubercular bacilli circulates in the air when a patient with tuberculosis of the lungs or windpipe coughs.
  • Tuberculosis does not spread by contact with clothes, sharing utensils/glasses, toilets etc.

What happens if you or your child has a contact with a patient with TB?

  • After breathing in TB bacteria some children might get infected with TB bacteria.  Not all exposed children would infected!!!
  • Out of some of these infected children the bacteria would multiply in the body and cause active TB disease. It is important to remember that all the infected people would  NOT get active disease.

What is usually done in case your child has got exposed to a patient with tuberculosis?

  • Many factors would have to be considered like type of tuberculosis in the adult from where the child has got a contact, the age of the child and symptoms if any.
  • We would also do a detailed examination of the child for any signs suggestive of tuberculosis like any lymph nodes etc.
  • The child would also need to undergo a Mantoux test with to look for TB infection. Please remember a positive Mantoux suggests an infection only and not active disease!
  • Further investigations might be required in some cases like a Chest Xray,  ultrasound of the abdomen, etc.

Can some medicine be given for preventing tuberculosis in a child who is exposed with TB?

  • Children less than 6 years of age who are exposed to any infectious case of tuberculosis would need prophylaxis.
  • Isoniazid can be used in such situations for six to nine months.