TB Rise In Midlands Linked To Immigration

TB rise in Midlands linked to immigration

Adam Aspinall
Sunday Mercury
Nov 2 2008

RISING immigration has played a part in the increase of tuberculosis in the Midlands, according to a health expert.

Dr Annette Wood, TB lead for the Health Protection Agency (HPA) in the West Midlands, said that immigration is one of the factors led to the spread of the disease.

According to the latest report from the HPA, 50 per cent of the people affected by TB in the West Midlands are from a South Asian background.

And the study, released last week, shows that 32 per cent are from a Sub-Saharan background.


Dr Wood 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 per cent.

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.

There have been several high profile outbreaks over the last year.

The Sunday Mercury revealed mum-of-four Sherronie Ferguson died from the disease after doctors allegedly failed to diagnose it.

The 27-year-old, from Wolverhampton, went to medics after falling seriously ill, but her family say she was sent home with simple antibiotics after diagnosing a chest infection.

The single mum was eventually diagnosed with TB in February, but she died in March.

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.