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Does BCG vaccine prevent tuberculous meningitis?
  1. N Thilothammal,
  2. P V Krishnamurthy,
  3. D K Runyan,
  4. K Banu
  1. Clinical Epidemiology Unit, Institute of Child Health and Hospital for Children, Madras, India.


    The reported efficacy of BCG vaccine in preventing pulmonary tuberculosis varies from 0-80%; however, its efficacy in preventing tuberculous meningitis ranges from 52%-84%. A case-control study was conducted to assess the efficacy of BCG in preventing tuberculous meningitis in children. New cases of tuberculous meningitis, confirmed bacteriologically, were registered as cases. Controls were children suffering from febrile convulsions attending the same hospital. A total of 107 cases and 321 controls, block matched for age, were registered. Vaccination status was determined from the history reported by the mother and by BCG scar reading. Data regarding socioeconomic status, crowding, and nutritional status were collected. Using multiple logistic regression analysis the odds ratio obtained for the presence of BCG scar was 0.23 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.14 to 0.37) and the protective efficacy of BCG vaccine in preventing tuberculous meningitis in children was found to be 77% (95% CI 71 to 83%).

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