While rates of TB have consistently dropped across much of the world over recent years, the UK has experienced a two decade long rise in cases. In 2013 nearly 8,000 new cases were identified.
England and our Western European neighbours shared an incidence rate of 12.7 percent (per 100,000 population) in 2001. But just ten years later, while the Western Europe rate had dropped to 6.8 percent, in England it had risen to 15.9 percent.
- There were 7,892 cases in 2013
- 38% of cases were in London
- 73% were among non-UK born
- 70% of cases live in the 40% most deprived areas
- 10% had at least one social risk factor (history of alcohol or drug misuse,
homelessness or imprisonment).
Rates have stabilised over recent years and in fact the overall numbers of TB cases in the UK have declined by 11.6% in the past two years. However the rate is still unacceptably high compared with other Western European countries.
Drug-resistant TB has posed an increasing threat in the UK, although the proportion of cases has remained stable at 1.6% of all TB cases over the past three years. Cases of multi drug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) had previously trebled in 12 years.
Who gets TB?
In 2013, 73% of TB cases were found among people born outside the UK, although only 15% of these were recent migrants (diagnosed within two years of entering the UK).
TB remains an illness that is associated with health inequality here. In 2013, 70% of people diagnosed with TB lived in areas within the two most deprived quintiles in England, as measured by the Index of Multiple deprivation. Nearly half the number of people that developed TB (44%) were not in employment and 10% had at least one social risk factor (history of alcohol or drug misuse, homelessness or imprisonment).
Tuberculosis in the UK 2014 report, Public Health England 2014
The UK government does not have any current targets for tuberculosis in the UK. As the only TB charity working on tuberculosis nationally, TB Alert would like to see this change. This is why we have been advocating for the development of a National Strategy. We are now part of the national TB Oversight Group developing the strategy over coming months.