London leads Western Europe in TB infections

A new report recently revealed that London has become the tuberculosis capital of Europe, with the number of people infected in growing by 50 percent in the last decade.

While other countries in the region have witnessed a drop in their tuberculosis rates, Britain has seen a rise, according to the Washington Post.

In 1999, there were 2,309 reported tuberculosis cases in London. That number rose to 3,450 in 2009. An article in the British medical journal the Lancet reports that England, as a whole, contains approximately 9,000 cases. As only about 70 percent of cases are believed to be known, those numbers are thought to be an underestimate.

"We are concerned to see cases of TB at their highest levels since the 1970s," Dr. Ibrahim Abubakar, head of tuberculosis surveillance at Britain's Health Protection Agency, said in a statement to the Washington Post.

"The key to reducing levels of TB is early diagnosis and appropriate treatment," Abubakar said.

Tuberculosis still remains relatively rare in the U.K., where about 15 people per 100,000 are infected, but this rate is still higher than elsewhere in Western Europe. In France, only 10 people per 100,000 are infected.

Most cases of tuberculosis in England are in immigrants, though not recent arrivals. About 85 percent have been in the country for at least two years. This means the disease is probably not imported, but circulating locally.