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Drug-resistant TB cases on the rise

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The number of drug-resistant cases of TB increased by 26 per cent between 2010 and 2011, according to the Health Protection Agency (HPA).

Overall, 8,963 new cases of TB were reported last year, with 431 resistant to the four main antibiotics used to treat the infection. The drug-resistant figure was up from 342 in 2010, while total TB cases increased by more than 500.

Professor Ibrahim Abubakar, head of TB surveillance at the HPA, said that although TB diagnoses were on the up, case numbers had been stabilising since 2005.

'However, the increase in drug resistant cases remains a concern and a challenge to our efforts to control TB in the UK,' he added.

Patients usually acquire drug resistant disease either as a result of spread of a drug resistant strain from another person or as a result of inappropriate or incomplete treatment.

'The message that not completing the full course of treatment can encourage drug resistance is an important one in light of [these] figures,' Professor Abubakar said.

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