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Success against TB - but resistance still a concern

Monday March 25th, 2019

The number of new TB diagnoses in England has nearly halved this decade – but scientists have warned of the continuing threat from antibiotic resistance.

The figures, released for World TB Day yesterday, showed that 4,672 people were diagnosed with the disease last year compared with 8,280 in 2011.

This is the lowest levels since records were first compiled in 1960, Public Health England said.

NHS England national clinical director for respiratory disease Professor Mike Morgan, said: "One of our priorities has been to drive improvements in the way TB is managed and it is excellent news that, thanks to the hard work of NHS staff, rates are now significantly lower.

"However, we must not rest on our laurels and with PHE we will continue to work hard towards the eradication of TB."

PHE head of TB strategy Dr Sarah Anderson said: "It is hugely encouraging to see a continued decline in TB cases in England, which shows that the interventions we are putting in place are having an impact.

"However, TB still affects nearly 5,000 people a year in the UK and many people are simply unaware of the symptoms and impact of the disease."

* Experts at Surrey University highlighted the threat from antibiotic resistance, pointing out that 25% of all deaths globally from drug resistant bacterial infections involved TB patients.

Dr Dany Beste, a lecturer in microbial metabolomics, said: “We need new drugs which shorten treatment time, are cheap and accessible to those in need and a new vaccine which is better than the current vaccine BCG in preventing adult TB. Investment in TB research and development is required if we are to have any chance in achieving the World Health Organisation goal to end the global epidemic of TB by 2035.”

Bacteriologist Dr Suzie Hingley-Wilson added: “World TB day marks the date on which Robert Koch first described the causative agent of TB, Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

"If Koch was alive today he would be shocked to discover that 147 years later TB is once again the number one infectious disease despite the fact that 80% of TB cases are fully treatable.

"Mycobacterium tuberculosis is an extraordinary bacteria which grows 80 times slower than the gut bacteria Escherichia coli but if untreated turns your lungs to the consistency of cheese and can lead to a protracted and debilitating illness and ultimately death by suffocation.”

Tags: Pharmaceuticals | Respiratory | UK News

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