Victorian disease sweeping across UK as key hotspot for cases revealed

By Staff 5 Min Read

Cases of tuberculosis increased by more than 10 per cent in 2023, with health security officials blaming the worrying rise on a rebound from the coronavirus pandemic

Cases of the Victorian disease tuberculosis are on the rise across England, leaving health officials concerned.

The increase is said to be a “rebound of TB cases in England” after the Covid-19 pandemic according to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA). It said it is “working with partners to investigate the reasons behind the increase in TB”. It comes after a 10.7% rise in cases in 2023 compared to the previous year – 4,850 compared to 4,380. Health experts are spreading awareness of the symptoms of TB.

These include a persistent cough and fever and doctors are reminding people these aren’t always the signs of coronavirus, and could potentially be TB. The disease, associated with the 19th century, was once incredibly deadly. It caused the deaths of an estimated four million people between 1851 and 1910 in England and Wales.

Officials say the disease remains relatively rare these days but are nonetheless concern by rising case numbers. Experts say TB is more common in poorer, urban areas like big cities. Birmingham reported the highest number of cases last year, according to Birmingham Live. The UKHSA said: “The proportion of TB notifications accounted for by people born outside the UK has been steadily rising for a number of years. However, the increase in TB in 2023 has now been seen in both UK born and non-UK born populations in England.

“The largest rises in cases have been in the urban centres of London, the North West and West Midlands. However, there has also been increases in the South West and North East regions where TB incidence is low. Tuberculosis continues to be associated with deprivation and is more common in large urban areas.

Dr Esther Robinson, head of the TB unit at UKHSA, added: “We need collective action to tackle TB and we are working with partners across the health system to understand how we can best refocus efforts to stamp out this preventable and treatable infection. Not every persistent cough, along with a fever, is caused by flu or Covid. A cough that usually has mucus and lasts longer than three weeks can be caused by a range of other issues, including TB. Please speak to your GP if you think you could be at risk.”

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