TB cases fall by five percent in the U.K.

The British Health Protection Agency recently announced that tuberculosis cases in the country fell by five percent in 2010 in comparison with the number of cases seen in 2009.

Nearly 8,500 cases were confirmed in the U.K. in 2010, down from nearly 9,000 in 2009, according to UKPA.

As has been seen in previous years, the disease remains most prevalent in urban areas. London accounted for the highest proportion of TB cases in the U.K. with almost 40 percent. The West Midlands ranked second with a distant 11 percent.

The HPA found that one out of 20 TB patients failed to complete the full treatment regimen for their infection and did not follow up with health officials. Initiatives to increase the proportion of TB patients who complete treatment appear to have been successful, but the HPA remains concerned about the number who do not.

It takes six months of antibiotics to complete the full TB treatment course, but those who do not finish pose a risk because the infection can linger and develop resistance to the medications, UKPA reports. Failure to complete treatment also poses a risk to others who may contract the illness, particularly to close contacts and family.

"The key to reducing levels of TB is early diagnosis and appropriate treatment. TB is a preventable and treatable condition but, if left untreated, can be life threatening,” Dr. Ibrahim Abubakar, the head of TB surveillance at the HPA, said, according to UKPA.