A GP guide to tuberculosis in Australia

Increasing migration from countries with a high incidence of TB means GPs in Australia are still likely to encounter infected patients

Need to know

  • Consider a diagnosis of TB in any person with persistent cough who has lived in a high-prevalence country.
  • In the first instance, suspected TB can be assessed with a simple chest X-ray.
  • The diagnosis is confirmed by tests performed on sputum. Treatment is relatively complex and managed by specialist services. However, the outcomes of treatment are generally very favourable.

Epidemiology of TB in Australia

Tuberculosis is not a common problem in Australia. There are about 1100 cases a year throughout the country, and this figure has been stable for many years. However, 86% of TB cases in Australia occur in those born overseas.

Indigenous Australians are also six times more likely to be affected than non-Indigenous Australians.

There are several high-burden countries for TB among the top 10 countries of origin for migrants

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