Role of bacille Calmette-Guérin in preventing tuberculous infection.
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SETTING: Rural community in South India. OBJECTIVE: To determine the role of bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) in preventing tuberculous infection in children. DESIGN: A prevalence survey was undertaken in 1999-2001 in a representative rural population in Tiruvallur District in South India using cluster sampling. Tuberculin testing was performed among all children aged <15 years, and all adults aged 15 years were questioned about chest symptoms and underwent radiography, followed by sputum examinations, if indicated. RESULTS: In children living in households with a tuberculosis case, the proportion with evidence of tuberculous infection was 35.5% of 200 in the absence of a BCG scar and 27.0% of 100 in its presence, a reduction of 24% (P = 0.14). In very young children (age <5 years), the corresponding proportions were 29.1% of 55 and 11.9% of 42, a reduction of 59%; the difference was statistically significant (P = 0.048). CONCLUSION: There is a possible role for BCG in preventing tuberculous infection in very young children.