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Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG)

The only vaccine currently used to prevent tuberculosis. It was developed by the French scientists Albert Calmette and Camille Guérin at the Institut Pasteur, Lille, between 1907 and 1921. It is a living, attenuated (weakened) variant of the bovine tubercle bacillus.

Bacillus (pleural – bacilli)

Literally, ‘a rod’, this refers to rod-shaped bacteria, in contrast to the circular coccus (pleural – cocci). (The term is complicated as one genus of bacteria is called Bacillus. This includes the organism causing anthrax – Bacillus anthracis.)


A large group of single-celled organisms which, together with the blue-green algae, are characterised by having a nucleus which is not confined by a nuclear membrane.  Most bacteria are free-living in the environment but a few cause disease in humans and animals. Bacteria are quite different from viruses.


Removal of a sample of tissue, by means of a fine needle, bronchoscope or other instrument, or through a small incision, for laboratory examination.

Bovine tuberculosis

Tuberculosis of cattle caused by the bovine tubercle bacillus, Mycobacterium bovis.  Disease is transmissible to humans, directly from cattle by or by drinking milk from cows with tuberculous mastitis, in countries where bovine tuberculosis has not been eliminated.

Bronchus (Bronchi)

The larger airways of the lungs. Bronchial – of the Bronchi.

Examination of the airways by means of a flexible or rigid tube. Modern instruments are fibre-optic and highly flexible and they enable specimens to be obtained from the lung by aspiration, washing, brushing and biopsy.

Buruli ulcer

A chronic tropical disease characterised by extensive skin ulceration. Caused by Mycobacterium ulcerans.

Butcher’s wart

Also called prosector’s wart, this is a tuberculous skin lesion acquired by accidental injury while cutting up tuberculous animal carcases or human corpses.

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