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Practice nurses have 'vital' role in identifying at risk migrants

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The Health Protection Agency has called on practice nurses and other primary care practitioners to identify migrants who may be at risk from infectious disease.

The Health Protection Agency has published its second report on Migrant Health, which brings together infectious disease surveillance information with a focus on non-UK born populations. It is based on surveillance between 2005 and 2010.

It shows a small proportion of the non-UK born residents bear the greatest burden of infectious disease reported in the UK. For example, in 2010, 73% of TB cases reported in the UK, almost 60% of newly diagnosed cases of HIV, and 80% of hepatitis B infected UK blood donors were born abroad, the report said.

It also said 77% of non-UK born TB cases in 2010 were diagnosed two or more years after arrival in the UK, and half of non-UK born men who have sex with men with a newly diagnosed HIV infection between 2001 and 2010 had probably acquired their infection within the UK.  

In addition, UK residents travelling to visit friends and relatives in their country of origin are the main risk group for some travel-associated infections diagnosed in the UK such as malaria and enteric fever.

The report said 61% of malaria cases reported in the UK in 2010 and 87% of enteric fever cases in England, Wales and Northern Ireland were in non-UK born residents who travelled abroad to visit friends and relatives. 

Dr Jane Jones, consultant epidemiologist and head of the travel and migrant health section at the HPA, said “Primary care practitioners in particular play a vital role in identifying people at risk and ensuring appropriate management, and it is important to remember that risk to the non-UK born residents does not end on arrival in the UK.”

The HPA has developed an online Migrant Health Guide which was launched in January 2011.

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