Ministers accused of failing to act as TB cases grow - Guardian
"The government is failing to act on a plan to tackle tuberculosis amid evidence that cases of the disease are rising, according to medical experts. They claim that officials are failing to give priority to controlling the potentially fatal disease in spite of a promise in October 2004 from the chief medical officer that he would aim to cut the number of cases within three years.
In 2005, there was an 11% rise in TB in the UK compared with 2004. In 2006 there was a further increase of 2%, with a total of 8,500 cases. In London, which has the highest number of infections each year, TB cases increased by 11.2% last year. Britain is the only country in western Europe experiencing a sustained rise in TB cases. The British Thoracic Society says nine out of 10 TB specialists believe the number of cases is likely to rise over the next five years. It is demanding that the Department of Health "takes more leadership on this issue".
About 400 TB patients die each year in the UK, mainly due to late diagnosis or complications of other illnesses. It usually affects the lungs, but sometimes other parts of the body, and can be spread when somebody with the infection coughs or sneezes. It cannot be caught by sharing items such as towels and cups or through someone spitting, and it cannot be passed on genetically. Symptoms include fever and night sweats, a persistent cough, losing weight and coughing or spitting blood. Just over 10% of people exposed for long enough to an infectious person will go on to develop the disease."
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