November 24, 2015 – Infection Risk
Anchor lead: Do young children with TB put everyone at risk? Elizabeth Tracey reports
How risky is it for everyone to be around a child with XDR TB, the most deadly form of the disease? Sanjay Jain, who led a team at Johns Hopkins that recently treated a young toddler with this type of tuberculosis, says most of us can rest easy.
Jain: The good thing with young children is they are considered noninfectious, now, there’s not a lot of data about this but most experts would agree that very young children, especially children younger than five years of age, do not transmit TB even if they have full-blown, primary TB. The bad thing of course is it’s very difficult to diagnose. Often these young children are considered as sentinels of TB transmission. The majority of these children go undiagnosed and die of something we don’t know about. :29
Jain says the case underscores needs relative to tuberculosis in children, from rapid diagnostic tests to forms of antibiotics that can be taken by young children, to an imaging technique that monitors how treatment is going. He says the fact that young children don’t pose an infection risk should allow research to proceed without fear. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.