Immigration bringing TB back to Britain

November 4th, 2010 - 6:04 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Nov 4 (IANS) Fuelled by overseas immigration, tuberculosis has reared its head after 30 years in Britain.

There were 9,040 infections last year, the highest recorded since 1979 when there were 9,266 cases, according to figures released by the Health Protection Agency Thursday.

Figures show that London alone had 3,440 cases of TB last year, which is 38 percent of the total number of infections.

Besides, the number of cases of resistant TB, which cannot be treated with a course of antibiotics, has doubled in the past decade.

Health officials warn that the disease is mainly occurring among overseas immigrants, coming from Asian and African countries where it is far more common, reports the Daily Mail.

TB can be fatal if not diagnosed early enough and there are around 350 deaths in England every year.

The majority of cases occur in London and other urban areas, and it is particularly common among the homeless and drug users.

The disease, caused by bacteria, infects the lungs and typical symptoms include cough, fever, tiredness, lack of appetite and weight loss.

But people can have the illness for several years without feeling at all unwell - which is one of the reasons it spreads so quickly.

Health Protection Agency (HPA) officials also warn that the bacteria are becoming resistant to the treatment because patients are stopping taking the drugs too soon.

Paul Cosford, executive director at the HPA, said: “Although drug-resistant and multi-drug resistant cases of infection represent only a small proportion of TB cases overall, each resistant case requires careful and often prolonged treatment and care.”

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