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TB on the rise across the UK

19th March 2010

New figures show that cases of tuberculosis are rising across the UK.


Health Protection Agency (HPA) data shows a 5.5% rise with the total number of cases reported up from 8,679 in 2008 to 9,153 in 2009.

The highest incidence of tuberculosis (TB) is in London with 3,476 cases in 2009 – more than a third of the UK total – with the second highest in the West Midlands, which has 11.3% of cases.

The figures have been released in the HPA’s annual TB newsletter ahead of World TB Day.

Northern Ireland has consistently had the lowest number of TB cases and seen the greatest fall in cases, of 45% since 2005 while Wales had the biggest rise from 2008 to 2009, of 32%.

Dr Ibrahim Abubakar from the HPA’s Centre for Infections said: “The increase we have seen this year is the biggest rise in the number of cases since 2005.

“This increase shows that we must remain vigilant in our fight against TB. This is an entirely preventable and curable infection, but it can be fatal if prompt diagnosis and treatment are not given.

“People need to be aware of the main symptoms of TB, which include a fever and night sweats; a persistent cough; weight loss; and blood in your sputum. If you experience two or three of these symptoms for a period of more than three weeks, you should go to your GP.”

In May, the HPA launches the national strain typing service to improve understanding of how TB is spread in the community.


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Edwin Mapara

Sunday 28th March 2010 @ 15:48


This increase is expected with the conditions being very ripe: The credit crunch and its off-shoots, the economic down-turn, increased poverty, poor nutrition, overcrowding in accommodation, especially amongst immigrants, selective BCG vaccinations, lack of TB information in the community, delayed or non-diagnosis by GPs and medical doctors, cultural issues and taboo of talking about TB in some communities.

I have been around for five years in the UK and quite honestly surprised at the lack of knowledge of HIV infection, AIDS and TB amongst healthcare workers (HCW). Lack of knowledge amongst HCW translates to lack of knowledge in the community.

I was involved in developing the A-Z OF TB at Community Health Action Trust (CHAT) in 2005 after discovering very little public information on TB in London. The poster won accolade from the Centres for Disease Control, (CDC), Atlanta, America.
I remember quarrelling seriously with a programme manager who told me in 2005 that "...TB and HIV infection are not related in UK...This is not Africa!" Today we know that the Dept of Health is talking HIV Testing and TB testing in the same vein! We are also told by HPA that 5-25% of TB patients in the UK also have HIV infection.
It is still to get worse, before it gets better for TB control in UK.


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Article Information

Title: TB on the rise across the UK
Author: Mark Nicholls
Article Id: 14435
Date Added: 19th Mar 2010


World Health Organisation

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