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Primary care screening could decrease TB cases

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A primary-care based screening programme could help to tackle tuberculosis (TB) in the UK, according to a comment from Public Health England (PHE) published in The Lancet today.

Lead author Dr Dominik Zenner, head of the PHE TB screening unit said: ‘The PHE researchers suggest a pragmatic solution might be a quality-assured primary-care based screening programme. This would involve screening for latent TB among high risk groups - people aged 16 to 35 years, who entered the UK in the past five years from a country with an incidence of 150 cases per 100,000 or higher.'

Professor Ibrahim Abubakar, head of PHE TB section, and senior author on the paper said: ‘We urgently need more investment into services for tuberculosis diagnosis, treatment and prevention, targeted at high risk and hard-to-reach groups and delivered as part of a coordinated national tuberculosis-control strategy.'

London has the highest rate of TB of any western European capital and the UK will have more TB cases than the USA within two years, if current trends continue.

Latest figures show 8751 TB cases were reported in the UK in 2012, slightly lower than the 8963 cases reported in 2011. As in previous years, almost three quarters of cases were in people born in countries where TB is more common.

The Lancet article can be found here:

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