Warning over number of TB case in Northumberland

A health charity is warning people to be on the lookout for tuberculosis after four cases of the disease are being recorded in Northumberland each year.

By Katie Williams,
Wednesday, 7th October 2020, 11:33 am
Updated Wednesday, 7th October 2020, 12:12 pm
Four TB cases a year are being recorded in  Northumberland
Four TB cases a year are being recorded in Northumberland

Public Health England figures show there were four cases of TB on average annually in the area between 2017 and 2019.

Although this was a fall on the five diagnosed each year between 2016 and 2018, TB Alert said any increase in the disease – which primarily affects the lungs – is a concern because it may put sufferers at increased risk from coronavirus.

In Northumberland, the rate of TB was 1.2 cases for every 100,000 people.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

This compares to a figure of 8.4 nationally – up from 8.2 and ending seven successive years of falling rates.

The disease is curable but can be fatal in itself if left untreated.

Mike Mandelbaum, chief executive of TB Alert , said: "It is worrying that the number of people with tuberculosis rose in 2019. We should take this as an early warning sign so that we don’t return to a pattern of rising rates like we saw in the 1990s and 2000s."

Like Covid-19, tuberculosis is an airborne disease that can be passed on by inhaling tiny droplets from an infected person's coughs and sneezes.

A PHE spokesman said England has surpassed the World Health Organization's targets to reduce TB rates to 10 per 100,000.

He added: “Despite a small rise in case numbers, the TB rate in England remains below the definition of a low-incidence country, for a third consecutive year."