HPA North West and partners launch TB Awareness-Raising Campaign
As the resurgence of tuberculosis that began in the 1980s continues at local and national levels, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) North West, NHS North West, the charity TB Alert and the region’s Primary Care Trusts are launching a campaign to raise awareness of the disease.
The campaign aims to educate and inform about TB and bust myths. For example, many people think that TB was all but eradicated in the UK by the mass X-ray campaigns of the 1950s and 1960s, but approximately 9,000 cases were recorded in England and Wales in 2009.
There were 816 cases in the North West in 2009 (up from 743 in 2008), more than in any other part of England and Wales apart from London and the West Midlands.
Professor Dr. Qutub Syed, Director, HPA North West, said: “Our goal is to give people of all backgrounds basic information on TB and its symptoms and the knowledge of what to do if they think they may have the disease. This will be one of our top priorities for the next six months.
“We are targeting news media outlets that serve ethnic minority communities, but we are also seeking to develop a partnership with mainstream UK newspapers, television and radio because TB is everyone’s business.
“It would be a huge mistake for people to think that TB is just in immigrant communities in Britain. TB can affect anyone and no one should be complacent about it.”
In addition to media work, the region’s TB leads, Drs. Marko Petrovic in Greater Manchester, Evdokia Dardamissis in Cheshire and Merseyside and Sohail Ashraf in Cumbria and Lancashire are drawing up a list of community events that they can attend along with colleagues from TB Alert and local PCTs to answer questions, allay concerns and hand out information leaflets.
What Everyone Should Know About TB-Basic Facts
• TB is a bacterial infection that can affect any part of the body, but most often the lungs.
• TB is common throughout the world. It’s estimated that up to one-third of the global population may be infected with the bacteria that cause TB (This is known as having latent TB).
• 9 million new cases are reported worldwide every year and up to 2 million people die from the disease. The high death rate is because many patients in poorer countries do not have access to treatment.
• TB is less common in the UK. Approximately 9,000 cases were reported in England and Wales in 2009. 819 of these cases were reported in the North West – up from 743 in 2008.
• The North West has more TB than anywhere else in England and Wales, apart from London and the West Midlands.
• Anyone can get TB – no-one should be embarrassed if they develop the disease.
• In most cases, TB is fully curable with a complete course of TB drugs. A course of treatment takes at least six months to complete.
• Patients will begin to feel better after just two weeks on treatment and they will usually stop being infectious. However, if the full course of treatment is not completed, the patient will not recover and is likely to develop drug-resistant forms of TB that are much harder to cure.
• It’s important to get TB patients into treatment at an early stage. The earlier the treatment starts, the more effective it will be.
• Early treatment also reduces the chances of TB infection being passed on to others.
• As a general rule, TB does not spread easily from person-to-person. People without underlying factors that make them susceptible to infection are usually only at risk if they spend an aggregate of many hours in close contact with someone who is openly infectious and coughing up TB germs.
• In UK residents with overseas connections, most cases are seen in young adults aged 15-44. This is because young people are at high risk of infection in countries with high levels of TB.
• In UK-born individuals, the risk is highest in elderly people. This is generally but not always a reactivation of TB that was acquired many years before when TB was common in this country.
Who is at risk?
Some people are more at risk than others. These include:
• People who have prolonged close contact with a TB patient who is coughing up TB germs – most commonly this is people in the same household as the case
• People who have lived for a long time in a country that has a high rate of TB
• People who were exposed to TB in their youth, when the disease was common in this country.
• People whose immunity to infection has been lessened by illness or treatment.
• People with chronic poor health as a result of homelessness, alcoholism, drug addiction and other factors.
• Very young children and old people.
What are the Symptoms of TB?
• A cough that lasts for more than 3 weeks
• Coughing up blood
• Night sweats
• Extreme tiredness and lack of energy
• Very high temperatures (fever)
• Weight loss for no obvious reason
• Don’t ignore TB symptoms. If you have a cough that won’t go away, night sweats and weight loss ask your doctor if you should be tested for TB
• Early treatment reduces the risk of long-term damage to your body. It also lessens the risk of passing on TB disease to others.
For further information contact Hugh Lamont on 0151-482-5728 or Claire Rogers on 0151-482-5732