Tuberculosis risk ‘above average’ in Sheffield

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The number of cases of tuberculosis in Sheffield remains higher than the national and regional average - but health chiefs are still seeing success reducing outbreaks.

Last year there were 92 cases in Sheffield, a rate of more than 16 victims in every 100,000 residents, according to figures published by Public Health England.

The national average is around 14 sufferers per 100,000.

Across Yorkshire as a whole, cases have dropped in number from 661 to 605 between 2011 and 2012, 11.4 cases in every 100,000 people.

Dr Ebere Okereke, TB lead for the Yorkshire and Humber Public Health England Centre, said: “TB is a preventable and treatable condition, but, if left untreated, can be life threatening. Although we have seen a slight decrease in cases in 2012, efforts to control the spread of this infection must remain a public health priority.

“Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment are key to reducing TB levels, so we encourage local commissioners to prioritise the delivery of appropriate clinical and public health services for TB, especially in areas where rates are highest.”

Those most at risk of developing the potentially deadly lung infection are individuals from ethnic minority groups, homeless people, drug users and the elderly.

Dr Okereke added: “To reduce the risk of active TB disease in people coming to the UK from high incidence countries, it is essential that new migrants have good access to screening and diagnostic services.”

Rates of tuberculosis in Sheffield increased from 10.5 to 22.7 per 100,000 people from 1982 to 2010. In 2010 there were 126 cases of TB. Most of the city’s cases are dealt with at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, where the respiratory medicine service is based.

Nationally, incidence figures are high compared to most other Western European countries. Almost three-quarters of the cases involved people born abroad, mostly in south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, where the infection is more common.