Aims: To describe the clinical features, diagnosis and management of children with tuberculosis in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland.
Methods: Cases of culture-confirmed and clinically diagnosed tuberculosis were reported to the British Paediatric Surveillance Unit from December 2003 to January 2005.
Results: 385 eligible cases were reported. Pulmonary disease was present in 154 (40%) children. Just over half (197, 51%) of children presented clinically and most of the remainder (166, 43%) at contact tracing. A probable source case was identified for 73/197 (36%) of the children presenting clinically. The majority (253, 66%) of children had a microbiological and/or histological investigation, and culture results were available for 240 (62%), of whom 102 (26%) were culture positive. Drug resistance was reported in 15 (0.4%) cases. 44% (128/292) of non-white children did not receive the recommended quadruple drug therapy. Seven children died. Only 57% (217) of children were managed by a paediatric subspecialist in respiratory or infectious diseases or a general paediatrician with a special interest in one of these areas. Fewer than five cases were reported from 119/143 (83%) respondents and 72 of 96 (75%) centres.
Conclusions: Many paediatricians and centres see few children with tuberculosis. This may affect adherence to national guidelines. Managed clinical networks for children with tuberculosis may improve management and should be the standard of care.
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