Disease on the Rise since Late 1980s; TUBERCULOSIS: Experts Say Early Diagnosis Is the Key

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Byline: By Catherine Vonledebur HEALTH REPORTER

THE West Midlands last year had the second highest number of tuberculosis (TB) cases reported in the UK - 941.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) this month published the latest TB figures showing 8,497 cases in the UK last year, which is similar to the 2005 figure.

London was shown to have the highest rate of the disease with 3,362 cases.

Britain as a whole has seen a resurgence of TB since the late 1980s.

Most of the new cases are in major cities, such as London, and an increasing proportion occur in people who were born abroad.

Dr John Watson, head of the respiratory diseases department at the agency, said: "Levels of TB have been increasing year on year since the late 1980s.

"The largest increase was seen among patients who weren't born in the UK, from 4,696 reported in 2004 to 5,310 in 2005.

"But only 22 per cent of these non-UK born patients in 2005 arrived in the UK during the past two years.

"This suggests that the increase is not a result of a large number of individuals arriving recently with TB but rather a combination of TB disease developing in individuals who may have been infected for some time and new infections acquired in the UK, or as a result of travel to other countries where TB is common. …