Lighting Up Reading to Raise Awareness in the Fight Against TB

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CHRISTCHURCH Pedestrian Bridge in Caversham will light up in red on 24th March to highlight the issue of tuberculosis (TB).

Reading is supporting World TB Day on Saturday 24th March 2018, by taking part in this year’s theme of ‘Light up the World for TB.’

Reading Council and South Reading Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are also supporting World TB day with series of community events in March.

Representatives from South Reading CCG, TB specialist nurses from Royal Berkshire Hospital and members of Reading Council’s public health team will be providing advice and support with information stands at Central and Battle Library on 22nd March.

Early detection of active TB infection and tracing those who may have been in contact is vitally important in the fight against the disease, as well as identifying those with latent (sleeping) TB.

TB is a disease caused by bacteria that can affect any part of a person’s body but most commonly affects the lungs. It can be infectious but can be cured by taking treatment.

The Council and its partners in the NHS, South Reading CCG, together with the TB Team at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, are keen to encourage an improved uptake of latent TB screening available in Reading.

A person may feel perfectly well and display no symptoms, but may be carrying a sleeping TB infection. Approximately one third of the world’s population has sleeping TB. People can be at risk even if they have had a chest x-ray and it was clear, and even if they have had a BCG vaccination, as this does not protect for life.

People are encouraged to use the free health screening service available in Reading for people newly arrived in the UK who may have been exposed to the disease. Advice and referrals can also be sought by visiting a GP.

Reading’s Lead Councillor for Health, Graeme Hoskin, said: “I’m delighted this year we can support the global TB awareness campaign by lighting up Christchurch Pedestrian Bridge. The community events in March are also one of many ways that we aim to raise awareness and reduce TB infection. Expert teams will be on hand to answer any questions, talk about TB and its symptoms and give advice about testing for latent TB.

“Much excellent work is being done locally to raise awareness of this debilitating disease, and to eradicate it with early diagnosis and treatment. However, the number of TB cases in Reading is still unacceptably high. By working with our NHS partners we hope improved awareness in affected communities and individuals, alongside improved access to high quality services, such as the New Entrant Health Screening Clinic at Royal Berkshire Hospital, will help in the fight against TB.”

Tracey Langham and Kay Perry, TB Clinical Nurse Specialists at the Royal Berkshire Hospital said: “The TB Service at the Royal Berkshire Hospital is run by a small friendly team who provide care for all areas of tuberculosis management; diagnosis, treatment, contact tracing, vaccination and screening for new arrivals to the UK. We work closely with our local community to raise awareness of this treatable condition.”

Dr Jo Jefferies, Public Health Consultant said: “Partners across Reading have been doing some excellent work talking with residents about TB. People often think that TB is a Victorian disease that is no longer around in the UK but it still affects a number of people in Reading each year. TB is curable with effective treatment and testing for the latent form of TB means people can be treated before they become ill. World TB Day is an opportunity for people everywhere to be informed about TB, educate others and urge governments to take action. I am delighted that Reading will be taking part in the ‘Light up for TB campaign’ with other towns and cities across the world. This global movement will make a powerful statement and show solidarity for people who have been affected by TB.”

Dr Bu Thava, Chair of South Reading CCG and a GP said: “We are delighted to support Reading Borough Council for World TB day and lighting up Christchurch pedestrian bridge on the 24th March will provide a real beacon for awareness of TB which is a problem for us here in South Reading. Too many of our population are unaware they might be carrying latent TB and a simple screening process which is freely available at the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust can provide you with a diagnosis and get you on your way to clear the infection. People who have come from sub-saharan and south east asian countries are at greatest risk of being infected and should contact the Royal Berkshire’s screening facility.”

There will be TB information stands on Thursday 22nd March at:

  • Reading Central Library: 11am -2pm
  • Battle Library: 1-3pm



Photo opportunity: There will be a photo opportunity on Christchurch Bridge at 6.30pm on Saturday 24th March with Cllr Graeme Hoskin, Reading’s Lead Member for Health, members of the Council’s public health team, and representatives from South Reading CCG.

Reading Health and Wellbeing Board has identified reducing Tuberculosis (TB) as a key priority within the Joint Health & Wellbeing Strategy, the strategy aims to promote and protect the health of all communities, particularly those disadvantaged and TB is a cause of health inequality in Reading.

The New Entrant Health Screening Clinic

The New Entrant Health Screening Clinic, based at the hospital, offers a range of tests for people who have arrived in the UK in the last five years and who were born or spent more than three months in a country with a high incidence of tuberculosis (TB).

Although people with sleeping TB are usually well and cannot pass the infection to others, it can develop into an active, infectious disease that is spread through the air. The risk of latent TB turning active is heightened when the body is put under stresses, for example, moving countries, starting studies or exams.

A chest x-ray is required as part of UK visa requirements, but the latent TB infection does not always show up and can only be found with special tests. Treatment can then be given to prevent active TB disease from developing.


For more information or to book an appointment at the health screening clinic, please contact the service on 0118 322 6882.

General TB Information

Tuberculosis (TB) is the leading cause of death from an infectious disease worldwide, ranking above HIV/AIDS and, in 2016, 10 million people developed TB disease.

The last five years have seen a welcome 32% decrease in TB cases in England, following an unprecedented two-decade-long rise in cases. This success is thanks to the combined efforts of local TB services, regional TB Control Boards, and partners, coming together under the national TB programme. This is the fifth consecutive year there has been a reduction in TB numbers and the number of people with TB is now the lowest seen in the past 17 years.

Yet in 2016, 5,664 patients in England were affected by TB. Locally in Reading the number of TB cases was 27. The incidence rate of TB in Reading is 17 per 100,000 population. The local reduction in TB cases since 2012 was 37% for Reading.

TB is a disease caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It can affect many parts of the body but usually affects the lungs and is curable with a course of antibiotics. TB is difficult to catch as it is only transmitted after prolonged close contact over several days. It is spread through the air when infectious people who have the disease cough, however it is rare for people other than household contacts to catch the infection from someone with TB.

Signs and symptoms of TB include:

  •  a persistent cough which does not disappear after two weeks
  • unexplained weight loss
  • night sweats

More information about TB is available at:

An information leaflet on Latent TB Testing is available in a range of languages here:

For a world map showing countries with high rates of TB, see the World Health Organization (WHO) website:

Countries with a high incidence include:

  • Africa – particularly sub-Saharan Africa (all the African countries south of the Sahara desert) and west Africa
  • southeast Asia – including India, Nepal, Pakistan, Indonesia and Bangladesh
  • Russia
  • China
  • South America
  • the western Pacific region (to the west of the Pacific Ocean) – including Vietnam and Cambodia

World TB Day

World TB Day is always on the 24 March and is designed to build public awareness of TB. It commemorates the day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch announced the discovery of the cause of TB. At the time of Koch’s announcement in Berlin, TB was rampant throughout Europe and the Americas – killing 1 person in every 4. Koch’s discovery opened the way towards diagnosing and curing TB.

World TB Day is an opportunity for people everywhere to join this fight by helping to educate others about TB and by urging governments to take action. Now is the time to join the global movement in making a powerful statement and show solidarity. This year’s global campaign ‘Light up the World for TB’ includes lighting up public buildings, monuments and famous landmarks in red.

Victoria Nickless

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