[Policy program to minimize spread of infection. Prolonged cough may be a sign of tuberculosis].Lakartidningen. 1998 Mar 04; 95(10):1010-2, 1015-6.L
In a worldwide epidemiological perspective, Sweden is well favoured with an annual tuberculosis incidence of approximately six cases per 100,000 of the population. Neither the impact of the HIV pandemic nor the occurrence of multiresistant strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis has yet become a major problem in the care of tuberculosis patients in Sweden. Only a few per cent of HIV patients have developed tuberculosis, and during the period, 1991-94, only one per cent of M. tuberculosis isolates in Sweden were resistant to such antimycobacterials as isoniazid and rifampicin. However, the epidemiological situation in the neighbouring Baltic states is a matter for concern. Bovine tuberculosis has been eradicated in Sweden, the last case having been diagnosed in 1978. Although the reported efficacy of BCG (bacillus Calmette-Guérin) tuberculosis vaccine varies according to the population studied, protective rates of 70-85 per cent have been reported for Sweden and other west European countries. Re-vaccination of tuberculin-negative individuals has not been shown to yield added protection. The aim of a national programme for protection against tuberculosis is to preserve our favourable epidemiological situation by early detection of new cases, effective contact tracing, and BCG vaccination of children in population groups at risk. The primary means of achieving this is the education of health care personnel to retain tuberculosis as a differential diagnosis. Moreover, national guidelines for contact tracing must be duly observed, and immigrants from high prevalence areas need to be screened for tuberculosis. Registration of all cases of tuberculosis should be maintained at regional and national levels, and follow-up must be meticulous until a successful outcome of treatment is accomplished. Recommendations for dealing with tuberculosis should be made available and duly implemented at all hospitals caring for tuberculosis patients, in order to avoid nosocomial transmission. Although BCG vaccination at birth was formerly general in Sweden, since 1975 only children considered to be at risk have been vaccinated. Thus, non-vaccinated young adults are now entering the health care sector as students or employees, and should be offered BCG vaccination. Moreover, the epidemiological situation both in Sweden and in neighbouring countries needs to be monitored carefully in order that recommendations concerning BCG vaccination and other preventive measures can be modified if necessary.