BCG scar and tuberculin reactivity in children and adults

Scand J Infect Dis. 2008;40(5):387-92. doi: 10.1080/00365540701732905.


Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination generally leads to scar formation and tuberculin skin test (TST) reactivity. This study aimed at analysing these 2 parameters and their correlation in a setting with a low prevalence of tuberculosis. Retrospectively, we analysed 314 children and 390 adults living in Sweden and known from records or individual recall to have undergone BCG vaccination. A BCG scar was present in 161 (51%) of the children and in 340 (87%) of the adults. Among children with a scar, 94 (58%) were TST-positive (>or=6 mm) compared to 23 (15%) of 154 children lacking a visible scar. Among adults with a scar, 258 (76%) were TST- positive compared to 23 (46%) of 50 with no scar. Out of 152 non-vaccinated adults, 142 (94.4%) were TST-negative. When 175 TST-negative health care students were BCG-vaccinated in a prospective part of the study, 174 (99%) were found to develop a scar. In essence, the study showed a positive correlation between scar presence and TST reactivity. Furthermore, BCG vaccination of adults in the present setting resulted in consistent scar formation, while scar prevalence in previously vaccinated children was low.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • BCG Vaccine / immunology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cicatrix*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Sweden
  • Tuberculin Test*


  • BCG Vaccine