Health chiefs issued a WARNING that Victorian sickness could return due to Covid.
Tuberculosis cases have been creeping up in recent years – last year they rose by seven percent.
The disease can be fatal if left untreated and the expert warns it “remains a major public health problem in the UK”.
In 2011, England had the highest rates of tuberculosis in Western Europe, but cases have since declined.
However, with so much attention paid to Covid and people not seeking treatment for the disease during the pandemic, rates have risen again.
The UK Health Safety Authority today warned anyone with a cough that lasts more than three weeks to seek help.
The British should not dismiss the new cough as Covid unless they are sure, as TB can also cause this symptom.
Health Minister Sajid Javid said: “Despite the significant progress made over the past decade in eliminating TB in England, we are very concerned about the upward trend in the number of cases.
“Tuberculosis is a serious infectious disease and without treatment it can be life-threatening.
“TB disproportionately affects people from disadvantaged and underserved groups, so it is critical that everyone has access to effective treatment so that we can continue to improve health across the country.
“If you have a persistent cough that lasts more than three weeks along with a fever, see your GP as soon as possible to get tested.”
Risk factors for TB include close contact with someone with an infectious disease, migration from high-incidence countries, homelessness, substance abuse, weakened immune systems, and incarceration.
Dr Laura Cleghorn of the University of Dundee told the Liverpool Echo: “It will be several years before the full impact of the pandemic on the TB burden is known, but there is already a continuing need for new and improved anti-TB therapies.
“With the potential increase in cases due to the pandemic, there is an even greater need for new therapeutics to address what is likely to be a clear increase in the burden of tuberculosis and mortality once the Covid-19 pandemic ends.
“When I tell people about my research, they are surprised that I am working on tuberculosis, because they think of it as a disease of the past, because it is not something that is common in the UK and other Western countries.”
Tuberculosis symptoms include:
- persistent cough that lasts more than three weeks and usually produces sputum that may be bloody
- shortness of breath that gradually gets worse
- lack of appetite and weight loss
- night sweats
- extreme tiredness or tiredness
Dr Jenny Harris, Director General of the UKHSA said: “TB is curable and preventable and now is the time to restart our elimination efforts.
“Despite significant progress towards elimination in recent years, TB remains a major public health problem in the UK.
“With treatment, most people make a full recovery, but delays in diagnosis and treatment, especially during a pandemic, will increase the number of undiagnosed TB cases in the country.
“It is important to remember that not every persistent cough along with a fever is Covid-19.
“A cough that is usually mucus and lasts longer than three weeks can be caused by a variety of other problems, including tuberculosis.
“TB develops slowly, and it can take several weeks, months or even years after infection before you notice that you are not feeling well.
“Contact your GP if you think you may be at risk so you can get tested and treated.”
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