OBJECTIVES: To determine the sensitivity of the bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) scar as an indicator of previous vaccination and to ascertain the tuberculin skin test (TST) response in infancy after vaccination in a community from an area hyperendemic for tuberculosis (TB). METHODS: In a birth cohort of healthy term infants from Lima, Peru, a single dose of BCG vaccine was administered within the first month of life. Scar formation was assessed biweekly during the first 6 months and again at 3 years after vaccination. TST response was evaluated 6 months after vaccination. RESULTS: Six months after vaccination, 99% (68) of the newborns exhibited a BCG scar (>2 mm). Scar size did not differ by sex, birth weight, age at vaccination, or nutritional status in the first 2 months. Eighty percent of the participants were found 3 years after vaccination, and all of them had a BCG scar. Mean TST reaction size 6 months after vaccination was 2.9 +/- 0.3 mm. No association was found between sex or age at BCG vaccination and TST size. Only 3 children had a TST >10 mm, and the 3 had a TB contact at home. CONCLUSIONS: The BCG scar was a sensitive indicator of vaccination status up to 3 years after the administration of the vaccine in the first month of life. Although nearly a quarter of the children had a TST response >5 mm 6 months after vaccination, TST reactions >10 mm did not occur in the absence of exposure to a person with tuberculosis. A cutoff of 10 mm should be used for disease control purposes in people who are born in countries where TB is endemic.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health