A medieval disease is feared to be on the rise as cases surge across the UK.
Cases of Tuberculosis in England increased by seven per cent in the first half of 2023 compared to the same timeframe in 2022, according to health experts.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) added that there were 2,408 notifications of TB compared to 2,251 in the first two quarters of 2022.
The disease normally attacks the lungs and while it can be treated with a course of antibiotics, can prove extremely serious if left untreated.
Symptoms vary from a prolonged mucus cough and high temperature to swollen glands.
Despite the severe side effects, it usually only spreads after prolonged exposure to someone with the illness.
For example, it often spreads within a family who live in the same house.
In most healthy people, the immune system kills the bacteria, and you have no symptoms.
Dr Esther Robinson, Head of the TB Unit at UKHSA, said: “TB is curable and preventable, but despite significant progress towards elimination in recent years, the disease remains a serious public health issue in the UK.
“With treatment, most people will make a full recovery. It is very important that those with relevant symptoms are tested for TB and appropriate treatment is started promptly, both for the individual and for the prevention of onward transmission.
“As we head into winter, it is important to remember that not every persistent cough, along with a fever, is caused by flu or COVID-19.
“A cough that usually has mucus and lasts longer than 3 weeks can be caused by a range of other issues, including TB.
“Tuberculosis develops slowly, and it may take several weeks, months or even years after you were infected before you notice you’re unwell. Contact your GP if you think you could be at risk so you can get tested and treated.
“Multi-drug resistance remains a major concern for TB treatment, but the latest data indicates that the proportion of people with a multi-drug resistant form of the TB bacteria has remained relatively stable in recent years.”
Common symptoms include:
- a cough that lasts more than 3 weeks – you may cough up mucus (phlegm) or mucus with blood in it
- feeling tired or exhausted
- a high temperature or night sweats
- loss of appetite
- weight loss
- feeling generally unwell
Children may also have difficulty gaining weight or growing.
If TB has spread to another part of your body such as your glands (lymph nodes), bones or brain, you may also have other symptoms, including:
- swollen glands
- body aches and pains
- swollen joints or ankles
- tummy or pelvic pain
- dark or cloudy pee
- a headache
- being sick
- feeling confused
- a stiff neck
- a rash on the legs, face or other part of the body.