Te poke mate kohi e moe tonu ana Latent tuberculosis infection

The bacteria that cause tuberculosis can make you very sick, but if your body can suppress this, you may stay well. This is called latent tuberculosis infection. You may need treatment to stop it becoming active tuberculosis.

Symptoms of latent tuberculosis infection

Latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) is different from tuberculosis. There are no signs of illness — people with latent tuberculosis are not sick.

As long as the germs are inactive, people with latent tuberculosis are perfectly well.

Latent TBI can become active

Sometimes, after months or years, the tuberculosis germs in someone with LTBI can become active. This can cause tuberculosis disease in the lungs and other parts of the body. If you get active tuberculosis you can become very sick, and you can pass on the bacteria to your whānau and others.

Pēpi and tamariki with weakened immune systems are at highest risk of developing the most severe forms of tuberculosis such as meningitis.

Find out more about tuberculosis symptoms, spread and prevention.


Who to contact for medical advice

If you have symptoms that you are worried about:

  • contact your usual doctor or healthcare provider
  • call Healthline for free advice 0800 611 116
  • call 111 for an ambulance in an emergency.

Treating latent tuberculosis to prevent tuberculosis

Even though you feel well and healthy with latent tuberculosis infection, a healthcare provider may still suggest treatment to make sure you do not develop tuberculosis.

Your healthcare provider will talk to you about the sort of treatment you need.

The type of treatment for LTBI usually depends on your age and other health problems.

Medicines used to treat latent tuberculosis

Your healthcare provider may offer you medicine. You will need to take the medicine for several months. How long you need treatment depends on the type of medicine used.

During this time, a healthcare provider will see you every month. Even though you feel perfectly well, you need to take your medicine every day — or exactly as your healthcare provider advises.

If you do not take your medicine regularly, it may not kill the bacteria.

The type of medicine used to treat latent tuberculosis will depend on an assessment by your healthcare provider of:

  • how likely it is that you will progress to active tuberculosis disease
  • how well you could manage the treatment
  • the effectiveness of the antibiotics
  • whether it is likely to interact with other medicines you may be taking.

Talk with your healthcare provider if you are worried about latent tuberculosis, your treatment or side effects.

If you are not given medicine

If your healthcare provider does not give you medicine, they will tell you about the early signs of tuberculosis to watch for. If you think you have any of these signs in the future, see a healthcare provider immediately.

If you are not sure what to do, call Healthline for free advice on 0800 611 116

Preventing tuberculosis

The tuberculosis (TB) vaccine is free for tamariki under 5 who have a higher risk of catching tuberculosis.

The vaccine helps protect against severe forms of tuberculosis by helping the immune system fight against it.

Find out more about TB immunisation.

Tuberculosis (TB) vaccine

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