Centenary of the UCT Faculty of Health Sciences

Advances in childhood tuberculosis – contributions from the University of Cape Town

Heather J Zar, Brian Eley, Mark P Nicol, Anthony Figaji, Anthony Hawkridge

Abstract


Childhood tuberculosis (TB) is common in high TB burden countries, contributing a substantial proportion to the TB caseload. The HIV epidemic has had a large impact on the incidence, diagnosis and management of childhood TB.
Aim. To review the contributions from researchers at the University of Cape Town to the field of childhood TB over the past decades.
Methods. Review of published literature on studies of childhood TB done by investigators from the University of Cape Town.
Results. Important advances have been made, especially in the areas of epidemiology, diagnosis and prevention of childhood TB. Epidemiological research has led to improved understanding of the large burden of childhood TB in Cape Town. Advances in diagnosis include use of improved specimens, particularly induced sputum and better diagnostic tests. The efficacy of GeneXpert, a rapid polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based diagnostic test, on induced sputum specimens, has potential to enable a confirmed diagnosis in children of all ages at a range of healthcare facilities, and represents an important advance in management of children presenting with suspected TB. Advances in prevention include the establishment of a vaccine study site and several studies on immunisation, and on the use of primary isoniazid prophylaxis as an effective preventive strategy in symptomatic HIV-infected children.
Conclusion. Research in childhood TB has led to important advances in diagnosis and management, enabling better care for HIV-infected and uninfected children.

Authors' affiliations

Heather J Zar, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, University of Cape Town

Brian Eley, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, University of Cape Town

Mark P Nicol, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, University of Cape Town

Anthony Figaji, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, University of Cape Town

Anthony Hawkridge, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, University of Cape Town

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Keywords

tuberculosis, children, advances

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2012;102(6):518-521.

Article History

Date submitted: 2011-12-22
Date published: 2012-03-02

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