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UK has the highest TB rates in western Europe

The UK has the highest levels of tuberculosis (TB) in western Europe, official figures show. 

Data released by Public Health England (PHE) shows that 8,751 TB cases were reported in 2012, slightly lower than the 8,963 in 2011. 

The official PHE Report shows that rates have stabilised, following increases of confirmed cases over the past twenty years. 

However TB incidence in the UK remains high. Almost three quarters of new cases were in people born in countries where TB is more common. 

The majority of cases were from South Asia (60%) and sub-Saharan Africa (22%). Most cases were found in London (40%). 

In the UK-born population, ethnic minority groups are most at risk, as well as those with social risk factors such as a history of homelessness, imprisonment or problem drug use. 

Dr Lucy Thomas, head of TB Surveillance for PHE said: “TB is a preventable and treatable condition, but, if left untreated can be life threatening. Efforts to control the spread of this infection must remain a public health priority. 

“Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment are key to reducing TB levels in the UK.” 

In the UK, pulmonary TB is the most common form. The symptoms may include: 

 - A persistent cough (more than three weeks) which brings up phlegm, which may be bloody 

 - Breathlessness, which is usually mild and gradually gets worse

 - Lack of appetite and weight loss 

 - A high temperature

 - Night sweats 

 - Extreme tiredness or fatigue 

 - Unexplained pain for more than three weeks