Drug resistant TB cases on the rise
Cases of tuberculosis (TB) which were resistant to drugs rose in the UK by more than a quarter last year, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) has stated.
The body says that during 2011 there were 431 cases which did not respond to treatment using antibiotic drugs, compared to 342 in the previous year.
TB is a bacterial infection which mainly impacts on a person’s lungs and breathing although its symptoms can affect over parts of the body.
A decade ago the disease had been virtually eradicated in the UK thanks to the BCG vaccine, however, diagnosed cases have risen steadily in recent years, something was has been attributed to increased cross-border movements.
Overall there was just under 9,000 new cases of TB diagnosed in the UK last year, a rise from 8,400 in 2010.
Ibrahim Abubakar, a professor and head of TB surveillance for the HPA, said that the increase in numbers is moderate but the rise in those which are cannot be cured using drugs should cause alarm.
"The increase in drug-resistant cases remains a concern and a challenge to our efforts to control TB in the UK,” he stated.
He added that to a disproportionate level, those affected are in “hard to reach and vulnerable groups” such as foreign migrants.
Professor Abubakar believes that health officials in the areas worst affected should do all they can to ensure that services and treatments are made available.
Symptom of TB include persistent coughing, sweating through the night for sustained periods (ie weeks and months), significant weight shedding, shortness of breath and a high temperature.
The disease can be spread by coughing, sneezing and even talking because the bacteria can travel in a person’s breath.
According to the World Health Authority, TB is second only to AIDs as a single infection killer.