TB cases in England increase by 7% in the first half of 2023

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Data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) indicates that cases of TB in England increased by 7% in the first half of 2023 compared to the same timeframe in 2022, with 2,408 notifications compared to 2,251 in the first 2 quarters of 2022.

While England remains a low-incidence country for tuberculosis, progress towards elimination has stalled in recent years. Ahead of the United Nations (UN) High Level Meeting on tuberculosis, UKHSA is reminding people that TB is not just a problem for other countries - it is impacting increasing numbers of people at home.

TB notification rates in England remain highest in people who are originally from parts of the world where TB is more common and those in large urban areas in England which are associated with higher levels of deprivation, and in inclusion health groups - a term used to describe people who are socially excluded and typically experience multiple overlapping risk factors for poor health. This includes those experiencing homelessness or contact with the criminal justice system.

TB 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.

Dr Esther Robinson, Head of the TB Unit at UKHSA, said:

TB is curable and preventable, but despite significant progress towards elimination in recent years, the disease 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 onward transmission.

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."

Multi-drug resistance remains a major concern for TB treatment, but the latest data indicates that the proportion of people with a multi-drug resistant form of the TB bacteria has remained relatively stable in recent years.

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