Northern Ireland

TB cases in Northern Ireland rise by 40%

tuberculosis x-ray
Image caption TB is a serious but curable infectious disease which normally affects the lungs

The number of cases of tuberculosis (TB) in Northern Ireland increased by 40% in 2012, the Public Health Agency has said.

There were 87 reported cases of TB last year, up from 62 in 2011.

Since 2004, there have also been 12 cases of multi-drug resistant TB (MDRTB) in Northern Ireland.

TB is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs, although it can also affect other parts of the body.

It is spread from person to person, when someone who has the infection in their lungs, coughs or sneezes.

Only some people with TB in the lungs are infectious to others and even then, close and prolonged contact is needed to place other people at risk of infection.

People with the infection can have the following symptoms:

  • Fever and night sweats;
  • Persistent cough;
  • Losing weight;
  • Blood in your sputum (phlegm or spit) at any time.

Although it can be fatal if not treated, TB is usually curable with a six-month course of antibiotics which must be completed.

Dr Michael Devine, of the Public Health Agency, said: "Although people may think of TB as a disease of the past, the risk is that we become complacent, and with new drug-resistant types of TB evolving and increased international travel, it is essential that we maintain vigilance and know what to look out for.

"TB is not easily spread; close and prolonged contact is required for someone to even be at risk of being infected. Because of this, the greatest risk is to people who live in the same household."

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