BCG Vaccine May Ward Off Other Infections, Too

The Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine effectively protects against nontuberculous mycobacterial (NTM) infections as well as tuberculosis, according to a new evidence review.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the BCG vaccine is only recommended for individuals who meet certain criteria and who have consulted a tuberculosis expert.




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The researchers came to their conclusion after reviewing 10 studies, which comprised nearly 12 million participants, identified via systemic search using PRISMA guidelines.


All studies evaluated the protective effectiveness of the BCG vaccine against NTM disease in immunocompetent individuals.


Results of the analysis of the 3 cohort studies in industrialized countries showed that the incidence of NTM lymphadenitis was significantly lower among children who had received the BCG vaccination vs those who did not.


Findings from the 2 randomized controlled trials included in analysis showed that incidence of Buruli ulcer was significantly lower within the first 12 months of BCG vaccination.


The remaining 4 case-control studies showed conflicting results; One study showed that individuals with Buruli ulcer were less likely to develop osteomyelitis if they had a BCG scar.


“The protective effect of BCG vaccination against NTM should be taken into consideration when deciding on recommendations for discontinuation of universal BCG vaccination programs and in assessing new vaccines designed to replace BCG,” the researchers concluded.


—Amanda Balbi



Zimmerman P, Finn A, Curtis N. Does BCG vaccination protect against nontuberculosis mycobacterial infection? A systematic review and meta-analysis. 2018; 218(5):679-687.