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Bull World Health Organ. 1989;67(4):389-99.

BCG vaccination in leprosy: final results of the trial in Karimui, Papua New Guinea, 1963-79.


The efficacy of BCG vaccine in preventing the clinical manifestations of leprosy in a tuberculosis-free area of Papua New Guinea is reported. Between 1963 and 1966 a total of 5356 subjects, randomized to receive BCG or saline inoculations, were examined for leprosy before the vaccination and surveillance was continued until 1979. BCG afforded 48% protection against clinical leprosy, being most effective against borderline tuberculoid leprosy and in children vaccinated when under 15 years old. Protection was evident within 12 months in those vaccinated between the ages of 10 and 15 years but was delayed in other age groups. There was evidence for accelerated manifestations of tuberculoid leprosy in children vaccinated when under 5 years of age. Tuberculin sensitivity was more likely to be sustained following multiple BCG inoculations; vaccinees with sustained tuberculin sensitivity had the lowest incidence of leprosy, but protection was also evident in tuberculin-negative vaccinees. These results may have implications for ongoing trials of leprosy vaccine incorporating BCG.

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