Immunisation & Vaccine Preventable Diseases

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General Information | Surveillance & Epidemiology | Vaccination


Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, M. bovis, M. africanum, M. canetti or M. microti, which together form the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex.

There are two forms of tuberculosis: TB affecting the lungs and TB causing infection elsewhere in the body. The symptoms that occur when TB disease develops are usually not very specific. Often there are complaints of tiredness, listlessness, loss of weight and night sweating. When TB affects the lungs, a cough is usually present for weeks or even months.

Tuberculosis is a notifiable disease under the Public Health etc. (Scotland) Act 2008. More information on the Public Health etc. (Scotland) Act 2008 is available from the Scottish Government website.

The Scottish Mycobacteria Reference Laboratory (SMRL) undertakes the identification (including molecular characterisation) and susceptibility testing of all mycobacterial isolates in Scotland, both for clinical management and for epidemiological purposes. The laboratory reports all identification results weekly to HPS via ECOSS


Transmission of TB is by inhalation of infected droplets and requires prolonged close contact (e.g. sharing sleeping quarters) with an infected individual. An important feature of TB is that after infection, the bacteria can remain latent in the body for a long time (even lifelong) causing no symptoms of disease. People with latent TB infection are not infectious. Under favourable conditions, the bacteria can start multiplying and cause clinical disease.

Information Resources

Department of Health

Health Protection Management


Scottish Government’s policy on tuberculosis

Public Information

Health Protection Scotland

National Infection Prevention and Control Manual