Unbelievable - three die from tuberculosis in the UK

Unbelievable though it may seem in this day and age, three elderly people living in a home for the aged have apparently died of tuberculosis (TB).

Health officials are now investigating the cases of four residents at a care home near Airdrie in Lanarkshire, UK, who were diagnosed as having TB, three of whom have died.

The fourth resident, who was diagnosed in October last year, is responding to treatment.

The National Health Service in Lanarkshire says all residents and staff at the care home are being screened for the disease as a precautionary measure as tests have shown the cases were linked.

An outbreak control team was established to consider the cases and two-thirds of staff and the 66 residents have already been screened.

Families, visitors and all staff members have been informed of the situation.

Health officials are saying there is no evidence of any significant risk to the wider public.

An expert in public health medicine, says TB is a now a relatively rare disease and is not easily transmitted but it is good public health practice to fully explore any potentially linked cases of tuberculosis that come to light and look for any early signs of the symptoms so that prompt treatment can be received.

As a rule TB most often affects the lungs but can affect any part of the body including the bones, kidneys and lymph nodes.

It is spread when someone with the infection coughs or sneezes or talks and another person breathes in the bacterium.

Initially there may be no symptoms, but when they develop later they include a persistent cough, weight loss, fatigue and high temperature.

The condition is treated through a course of four antibiotics lasting six months, and it is rendered incommunicable after two weeks of treatment.

There have been approximately 400 cases of TB in Scotland in the past year, 24 of which were in Lanarkshire.

UK-wide, there were an estimated 7,000 cases last year, resulting in about 350 deaths.

The World Health Organisation estimates that as many as a third of the world's population is infected with TB but in most the immune system suppresses the infection without killing it.

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