Experts call for action as TB cases soar 10pc

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NUMBERS of people affected by tuberculosis in Yorkshire have risen by nearly 10 per cent in the past year.

Doctors say there were 686 cases in 2011, up from 630 the year before. Nationally, the numbers of cases increased by five per cent to more than 9,000 last year, with around three-quarters of cases in people born outside the UK.

Experts are warning more needs to be done in the region to tackle the toll from the illness, arguing opportunities from the reorganisation of the NHS, which will see public health services handed to councils next year, are used to treat and control TB, which is the leading cause of death among curable infectious diseases.

Ebere Okereke, consultant in communicable disease control and TB lead for the Health Protection Agency in Yorkshire, said: “TB is both preventable and curable but prompt diagnosis and treatment are essential to prevent serious ill health and to limit spread of the disease in the community.

“Tuberculosis continues to disproportionately affect those in vulnerable groups which are particularly hard to reach for health services. This is of particular concern because TB can be more challenging to treat in these groups and they are also less likely to complete full treatment.

“Completing treatment is crucial to reduce the risk of recurrence of disease and to prevent further transmission in our communities.”

Symptoms of TB include fever, night sweats, a persistent cough, weight loss, lack of appetite and fatigue.