Cumbria Health Warning: TB on rise and public urged to know the symptoms (From The Westmorland Gazette)
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Cumbria Health Warning: TB on rise and public urged to know the symptoms
A DISEASE once associated with poverty and factories is back on the rise in Cumbria.
In the five years since 2008, cases of tuberculosis in the county have doubled with nearly 30 last year, say health officials.
Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust is now raising more awareness ahead of World TB Day on Sunday March 24.
Mari Black, a specialist TB Nurse, said: “Many people are embarrassed about TB because it has a stigma attached to it of poverty and dirtiness.
"Years ago, TB spread quickly through large families who lived in cramped conditions and through factory workers who worked in close proximity.
"Although the disease can spread through families, it is people who have lower immunity who are more at risk. The disease is not necessarily linked to poverty.”
TB is a bacterial infection spread through prolonged exposure to the disease.
It is usually spread by inhaling tiny droplets from the coughs or sneezes of an infected person.
However, short term contact does not normally spread the disease, said the trust.
Before antibiotics were introduced TB was a major health problem in the UK and killed many people.
Nowadays, the condition is much less common, although the trust says in the last 20 years cases have gradually increased nationwide.
Treatment of TB involves antibiotics for up to six months.
The disease is treated to make sure the patient is responding to the antibiotics and families are screened or or anyone who may have come into prolonged contact with the patient.
TB nurses also screen all entrants to the UK and vaccinate babies and at risk.
TB mainly affects the lungs. However, it can affect any part of the body, including the bones and nervous system.
Typical symptoms are:
A persistent cough of more than three weeks that brings up phlegm which may be bloody
High temperature (fever)
Tiredness and fatigue
Loss of appetite
The trust says you should see a GP if you have a cough that lasts more than three weeks or if you cough up blood.