New warning the killer Victorian disease could return due to Covid

A WARNING a Victorian disease could return due to Covid has been issued by health chiefs.

Tuberculosis cases have increased in recent years – last year by seven percent.

Tuberculosis cases have been on the rise since last year - one of the main symptoms is a cough


Tuberculosis cases have been on the rise since last year – one of the main symptoms is a coughPhoto credit: Getty

The disease can be fatal if left untreated, with an expert warning it remains “a serious public health problem in the UK”.

England had the highest TB rates in Western Europe in 2011, but cases had been declining since then.

However, rates have risen again due to the heavy focus on Covid and people not seeking treatment for illnesses during the pandemic.

The UK Health Security Agency today warned anyone with a cough lasting more than three weeks to seek help.

Britons should not dismiss a new cough like Covid unless they are sure as TB could also cause this symptom.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Despite significant progress made in eliminating tuberculosis in England over the last decade, it is very worrying to see an upward trend in cases.

“TB is a serious infectious disease and can be life-threatening if left untreated.

“TB disproportionately affects people in disadvantaged and underserved groups, so it’s important that everyone has access to effective treatment so we can continue to improve health across the country.

“If you have a persistent cough lasting more than three weeks, along with a fever, please contact your GP as soon as possible to get tested.”

Risk factors for TB include close contact with a person with an infectious disease, migration from countries with high rates, homelessness, substance abuse, a weakened immune system, and imprisonment.

dr Laura Cleghorn from the University of Dundee, told the Liverpool Echo: “It will be several years before the full impact of the pandemic on the burden of TB disease is known, but there has already been an ongoing need for new, improved TB therapeutics.

“With the potential increase in cases due to the pandemic, there is an even more urgent need for new therapeutics to counter what is likely to be a significant increase in disease TB Burden and deaths once the Covid-19 pandemic is contained.

“When I talk to people about my research, they’re surprised that I’m working on TB because they think it’s a disease of the past because it’s not widespread in the UK and other western countries.”

Symptoms of TB include:

  • a persistent cough that lasts for more than three weeks and usually produces phlegm that may be bloody
  • Shortness of breath that gradually gets worse
  • loss of appetite and weight loss
  • a high temperature
  • night sweats
  • extreme tiredness or exhaustion

dr Jenny Harries, CEO of the UKHSA said: “TB is curable and preventable and now is the time to get our elimination efforts back on track.

“Despite significant progress in elimination in recent years, tuberculosis remains a serious public health problem in the UK.

“With treatment, most people will make a full recovery, but delayed diagnosis and treatment, particularly during the pandemic, will have increased the number of undetected tuberculosis cases in the country.

“It’s important to remember that not every persistent cough goes along with a feveris Covid-19.

“A cough, which usually contains phlegm and lasts more than three weeks, can be caused by a number of other problems, including tuberculosis.

“Tuberculosis develops slowly, and it can be several weeks, months or even years after you’ve contracted it before you realize you’re unwell.

“Contact your GP if you think you may be at risk so you can get tested and treated.”

Because homelessness is a risk factor for tuberculosis, a new high-tech mobile health clinic called Find and Treat is being deployed to improve screening.

It will test and treat around ten thousand vulnerable, homeless and vulnerable people in London each year.

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The Find and Treat van, provided by University College London (UCLH) Hospitals, is part of NHS Digital’s Future Wireless Project Trials.

It aims to combat a wide range of infectious and chronic diseases through the screening, diagnosis and treatment of diseases such as tuberculosis, COVID-19, hepatitis B and C, HIV, cardiovascular problems, STIs and influenza.

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