Birmingham Public Health targets TB hotspots

By on 19/03/2013 in News

Tuberculosis (TB) hotspots within Birmingham are being targeted by health teams this week to highlight the dangers of the disease, as World TB Day approaches on 24th March 2013.

A digital media van will be visiting areas with a high prevalence of TB in the city to promote the signs and symptoms of the potentially lethal disease to certain communities, and to provide information and advice for those needing it.

The van will be in the following areas on Saturday 23rd, Sunday 24th and Monday 25th March:

  • Aston
  • Sparkbrook
  • Soho
  • Washwood Heath
  • Small Heath

TB is a preventable and curable condition if treated early, but diagnosis is often delayed by several months because many people don't recognise the initial symptoms. The illness can also lie dormant for many years before becoming active.

About 5,000 children from high risk groups in the city are vaccinated against TB at birth each year and a migrant screening service operates at Finch Road Clinic, Birmingham.

Dr Adrian Phillips, Director of Public Health for Birmingham, said: “TB is often wrongly considered a disease of the past. In fact, the illness is very much present within some areas of Birmingham. TB can be cured with medication, but untreated it can kill.

“It usually affects the lungs, but can affect other parts of the body, such as the glands, the bones and sometimes the brain.

“Symptoms can take several months to appear and often include a fever and night sweats, persistent cough, weight loss and blood in your spit.

“Infected people may not feel ill or show any symptoms if their immune system can keep the bacteria under control. About one-third of the world's people are infected without showing symptoms. When someone's immune system is weakened, the chances of becoming sick are greater.

“We will continue to work with GPs and with community leaders and patient forums to raise awareness of the disease.”

People are most at risk of TB if they are living in the same house as someone who catches the disease, or if a close friend has the illness.

If you are concerned that you might have TB, contact your GP immediately for an appointment.

More information about World TB Day is available on


What is Tuberculosis?

Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infection, which is mostly found in the lungs but can affect any part of the body. TB is curable with a course of medicine, usually lasting six months. Only TB of the lungs or throat may be infectious and most people will not be infectious within two weeks of taking the correct medicine.

How is TB caught?

When someone who is infectious coughs, the germs can get into the air in small droplets and other people can breathe them in. TB is difficult to catch. People who are most vulnerable are those who have spent a lot of time with the person with TB (usually other people in the same household). It is unlikely that someone could catch TB in a place such as a bus or train, since prolonged close contact with someone who is infectious is usually necessary to be at risk of infection.

What are the symptoms of TB?

Patients with TB may have some of these symptoms:

  • A cough that last longer than three weeks and does not respond to normal medicine
  • A fever
  • Sweating at night
  • Weight loss for no reason
  • Being very tired and a lack of energy
  • Persistent swollen glands, often in the neck which do not respond to treatment
  • Anyone who has a cough that lasts more than three weeks, or coughs up blood, should see their GP.

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