Increased TB awareness needed to sustain fall in England’s TB cases

Rates of tuberculosis (TB) in England are falling, according to new Public Health England (PHE) figures. England’s annual TB cases have dropped from 7,257 cases in 2013 to 6,520 cases in 2014. Yet rates among vulnerable UK-born populations buck this trend, and increasing numbers are waiting months to start treatment.

The incidence of TB in UK born populations remained steady at 3.9 per 100,000. 15% of these cases were among people with a history of drug and alcohol misuse, homelessness or imprisonment and 38% among people from ethnic minority groups.

Nearly one third of people with pulmonary TB, the only potentially infectious form of the illness, waited more than four months between the onset of their symptoms and the start of treatment.

To sustain falling rates of TB it is critical that the NHS, local government, PHE and third sector work together to address the social dimensions of TB that lie at the heart of the Government’s Collaborative TB Strategy for England 2015-2020.

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