A recent report issued from the London Assembly shows there are specific boroughs within London that have significantly high tuberculosis (TB) rates, despite the nation’s efforts to eliminate the disease.
In these boroughs, there are 113 TB cases for every 100,000 people. These rates are notably higher than the ones recorded in Brazil, China, India and Russia.
TB is a respiratory illness that is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria can also infect other parts of the body, including the spine.
In 2014 alone, an estimated 9.6 million people contracted TB. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that another 1.4 million people died from the disease in 2014. In addition, many people don’t know how they contract TB.
“The whole thing about TB is you just don’t know how you got it,” Amina Scully, a London resident and recent survivor of tuberculosis, said. “I walked into the TB clinic and there wasn’t enough seating. It was absolutely packed with everybody from everywhere and I asked the receptionist, ‘Have all these people got TB?’ The answer was a resounding 'Yes.”
Because people can have latent TB and be unaware of it while they spread the disease, it is difficult to track TB.
“Somebody can remain latently infected for 10-20 years before they develop the disease, it’s not something you can quickly pick up, treat and prevent ongoing transmission,” Dr. Helen Fletcher, director of the TB Centre at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said.
Despite the difficulties, health professionals are doing everything possible to treat the disease and eliminate TB from the U.K. and the world.