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Tuberculosis: New cases at record low

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TB still affects nearly 5,000 people a year in the TB still affects nearly 5,000 people a year in the UK

New cases of tuberculosis (TB) in England have fallen to the lowest levels since records began in 1960, research by Public Health England has found.

There was a 44% drop in new diagnoses from the peak in 2011 to 2018 (from 8280 to 4672), with an 8.4% fall in diagnoses between 2017 and 2018 alone. PHE is working towards the World Health Organisation (WHO) goal to halve TB incidence by 2025, and ultimately eliminate the disease.

It is hugely encouraging to see a continued decline in TB cases in England, which shows that the interventions we are putting in place are having an impact,’ said Dr Sarah Anderson, Head of TB Strategy at Public Health England.

‘However, TB still affects nearly 5,000 people a year in the UK and many people are simply unaware of the symptoms and impact of the disease.’

The most deprived 10% of the population have a rate of TB more than 7 times higher than the least deprived 10%, and people born outside the UK have a rate 13 times higher than people born in the UK. According to PHE, patients, especially those from these communities, should be aware of the symptoms and make sure they visit their GP if they are concerned.

‘We should be proud that TB rates are now at the lowest levels ever recorded in this country – a true testament to the hard work of the NHS and public health staff in this country,’ said Steve Brine, Public Health Minister.

‘There is still more to do - people in deprived communities are still disproportionately more likely to contract this disease, so we must do more to tackle this injustice by raising awareness and ensuring early diagnosis and treatment.’

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