November 4, 2010
Last year, the United Kingdom recorded 9,040 new TB cases, the highest level in nearly 30 years, the Health Protection Agency said Thursday in its annual TB report. While new drug-resistant TB infections remained low at 1.2 percent of all cases, their number had almost doubled in the past decade, HPA noted.
"We are concerned to see cases of TB at their highest levels since the 1970s," said Dr. Ibrahim Abubakar, HPA's head of TB surveillance. "TB is a preventable and treatable condition but, if left untreated, can be life-threatening."
TB can affect anyone, said Abubakar. However, cases are more common among people in urban areas, immigrant communities, and vulnerable populations such as homeless persons and drug users.
"TB is sadly not a disease of the past, and the figures today serve as an important reality check," said Dr. Paul Cosford, executive director of HPA's Health Protection Services.
"The key to reducing levels of TB is early diagnosis and appropriate treatment," Abubakar said. This issue should be a national priority, and efforts should be increased where TB prevalence is high, he said.