An agreement has been drawn up to improve the care of tuberculosis (TB) in major European cities.
Recent studies have found that the majority of TB cases in western Europe concentrated in big cities.
The researchers found that although the number of cases is declining in many countries, the rate of TB in many of Europe's big cities continues to increase.
By comparing national TB rates with the rates in cities, the researchers found two times as many TB cases in cities, compared to national incidence. The study was published in Eurosurveillance.
Ibrahim Abubakar, Public Health England’s head of TB and Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at UCL said: “Although we have long understood that TB affects specific groups and is often concentrated in urban areas, what we are now witnessing is a marked change where rates of TB are showing an overall reduction nationally, while still increasing within big cities.
“Elimination of TB in European big cities requires control measures focused on addressing the diversity of individuals in urban populations and efforts to target TB must drive right down to local and regional level where unique experience of how to reduce the infection can be shared and built upon.”
“Public Health England is committed to reducing the incidence of TB and will publish a national strategy later this year which will consider how to specifically target those most in need of screening and treatment – this study published today is a significant step towards realising this mission to globally reduce the burden of TB.”
An EU-wide working group has been established to work out how best to tackle TB cases in big cities.
Latest PHE figures show that there were 8,751 tuberculosis (TB) cases reported in the UK in 2012, slightly lower than the 8,963 cases reported in 2011. TB is the leading cause of death among curable infectious diseases worldwide and was declared a global emergency in 1993 by the World Health Organization.
Symptoms include fever and night sweats, persistent cough, losing weight, blood in the sputum (phlegm or spit) at any time and can only be spread through close contact with an infectious case.