A tuberculosis (TB) warning has been issued to healthcare workers by the World Health Organisation (WHO) after it emerged that some strains of the highly infectious disease are becoming increasingly resistant to many drugs.
Doctors and nurses have been urged to remain vigilant after it emerged that multi-drug resistant TB cases are increasing throughout Europe, with 81,000 new cases on the continent every year.
Furthermore, the WHO has revealed that an even more lethal form of TB - dubbed extensively drug-resistant TB - is spreading at an “alarming rate across Europe”.
Research indicates that nearly 12% of newly diagnosed TB patients are infected with the multi-drug resistant form of the disease, as do 37% of those who have previously been treated for TB.
It has also emerged that London has more TB cases than any other city in western Europe, with 9,000 cases a year, of which 3,500 are new ones. The capital accounts for more than a third (38%) of all UK TB cases, while other major UK cities like Birmingham and Glasgow also having high rates.
Health protection Agency TB expert Dr Ibrahim Abubakar insists more needs to be done to boost TB detection rates as it is estimated that every person with TB infects another 10 people.
He said: “I think without a doubt there’s a need to make all healthcare workers, but GPs and A&E staff in particular, aware of the signs and symptoms of TB so they can recognise this earlier.”