TUBERCULOSIS cases have spiked by 7 per cent, health officials warn.
Infections jumped to 2,408 in the first half of this year, up from 2,251 last year, according to the UK Health Security Agency.
Experts said progress towards eliminating the deadly medieval disease has stalled and it is impacting increasing numbers of Brits.
Dr Esther Robinson, of the UKHSA, said: “Despite significant progress towards elimination in recent years, 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 and appropriate treatment is started promptly, both for the individual and for the prevention of onwards transmission.”
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Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease affecting the lungs caused by bacteria.
It spreads in the air when people carrying an infection cough, sneeze or spit.
Symptoms include a cough for more than three weeks, feeling exhausted, a high temperature, weight loss and loss of appetite.
Patients are normally given antibiotics for six months but cases can be deadly if left untreated.
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The infection can spread to your brain, spinal cord and area around your heart.
The UKHSA said cases are still most common in people who have come from areas of the world where TB is more common.
Infections are higher in urban and more deprived areas, with homeless people more at risk, they said.
While officials are concerned about drug resistant forms of TB, infections from that bacteria have remained stable in recent years.
Dr Robinson said: “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 three 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.”
David Fothergill, of the Local Government Association, said: “TB is a preventable and treatable disease that disproportionately affects vulnerable and disadvantaged populations.
“Certain groups, such as migrants and those with social risk factors such as homelessness or a history of imprisonment are more affected.
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"Council staff have essential frontline roles to play in controlling TB.
“This includes identifying symptoms, advising health and social care professionals on appropriate infection control as well as responding to TB incidents and outbreaks in settings such as schools.”
What are the symptoms of TB?
Common symptoms include:
- a cough that lasts more than 3 weeks – you may cough up mucus (phlegm) or mucus with blood in it
- feeling tired or exhausted
- a high temperature or night sweats
- loss of appetite
- weight loss
- feeling generally unwell
If TB has spread to another part of your body such as your glands (lymph nodes), bones or brain, you may also have other symptoms, including:
- swollen glands
- body aches and pains
- swollen joints or ankles
- tummy or pelvic pain
- dark or cloudy pee
- a headache
- being sick
- feeling confused
- a stiff neck
- a rash on the legs, face or other part of the body
Source: The NHS
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