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Immigrants take part in the TB spread

The rise of the disease appears to be stabilising after growing steadily for the last decade 03 November 2008. Half of the people affected by TB in the West Midlands are from a South Asian background, says the latest report from the Health Protection Agency. The study, released last week, shows that 32% are from a Sub-Saharan background.

Dr Annette Wood, HPA – West Midlands, confirmed that immigration is one of the factors led to the spread of the disease.

She said: “Immigration has had a part to play in the spread of TB, but overall it is a complicated picture.

“The burden of TB exists mainly in high-risk groups such as the homeless and people involved in substance abuse.

“It is also more of a risk for our ageing population and prisoners who are exposed to it. “But TB is more common in people who have families who come from places with high rates of TB, such as South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.”

The HPA figures also revealed that the spread of the disease appears to be stabilising after growing steadily for the last decade. But experts in the region are warning the figures are still too high.

In total there were 928 cases of TB reported in the West Midlands in 2007. This compares with 941 in 2006 – a small decline of 1.4%.

Nationally there were 8,417 cases in 2007, compared with 8,495 in 2006, a decrease of 0.9 per cent.

TB is a potentially fatal infectious disease caused by bacteria. It usually attacks the lungs but can also affect the central nervous system.

Last week 750 pupils at Clough Hall Technology School in, Kidsgrove, Staffordshire were offered free screening for TB after their teacher was diagnosed with the disease.

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