• Thursday, June 20, 2024

HEALTH

Higher TB prevalence linked to urban deprivation in England, data reveals

There were 2,408 TB notifications in the first half of 2023 compared to 2,251 last year

By: Pramod Thomas

CASES of TB in England increased by seven per cent in the first half of 2023 compared to the same period last year, with 2,408 notifications compared to 2,251, data from the UK health security agency (UKHSA) has revealed.

TB notification rates are primarily elevated among individuals from regions with a higher TB prevalence worldwide.

Additionally, urban areas with increased deprivation levels exhibit higher rates. Furthermore, inclusion health groups, comprising socially marginalised individuals facing multiple risk factors for poor health, such as homelessness or involvement in the criminal justice system, also display heightened TB rates, stated the report which was published ahead of the UN meeting on the fight against tuberculosis in New York on Friday (22) .

According to the UKHSA, the disease disproportionately impacts certain people, in part, due to the barriers they may face in accessing the interventions designed to identify clinical onset of TB; access to diagnostic and treatment services; ability to self-administer treatment and attendance at follow-ups.

The agency warned that TB is impacting increasing numbers of people in the country as progress towards elimination has stalled in recent years.

While multi-drug resistance is still a significant issue in treating TB, recent data revealed that the percentage of people with this resistant form of TB has stayed fairly consistent in recent times.

“TB remains a serious public health issue in the UK. With treatment, most people will make a full recovery. It is very important that those with relevant symptoms are tested for TB and appropriate treatment is started promptly, both for the individual and for the prevention of onwards transmission,” said Dr Esther Robinson, head of the TB unit at UKHSA.

“As we head into winter, it is important to remember that not every persistent cough, along with a fever, is caused by flu or Covid-19. A cough that usually has mucus and lasts longer than 3 weeks can be caused by a range of other issues, including TB.

“Tuberculosis develops slowly, and it may take several weeks, months or even years after you were infected before you notice you’re unwell. Contact your GP if you think you could be at risk so you can get tested and treated.”

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