Raising Awareness in the Fight Against TB

READING Council is highlighting the issue of tuberculosis (TB), with the aim of reaching all those unknowingly affected by the disease in the local area.

The Council and its partners in the NHS are keen to encourage an improved uptake of latent (sleeping) TB screening available in Reading.

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 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.

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 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.

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.

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.

Reading’s Lead Councillor for Health, Graeme Hoskin, said: “Much excellent work is being done to raise awareness of this debilitating disease, and to eradicate it with early diagnosis and treatment.

“However, the number of TB cases in England, and locally 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, will help in the fight against TB.”

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.

A number of successful initiatives have been carried out this year, including workshops and awareness sessions with community groups.

People who are worried they may be at risk of TB or latent TB should contact their GP for advice.

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

An information leaflet on latent TB testing is available in a range of languages here:  www.gov.uk/government/publications/latent-tb-testing-and-treatment-leaflet

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Notes

Reading Borough Council and South Reading CCG, together with the TB Team at the Royal Berkshire Hospital have developed and delivered a programme of work to raise awareness of TB, latent TB and the new entrant screening programme and to break down stigma that can sometimes surround the condition.

Work has included;

·         implementation of a new system to identify and invite eligible new entrants for latent TB screening,

·         design and delivery of the “Sleeping TB” campaign across Reading, GP education sessions, workshops for health professionals, council staff and those working in the community, a successful outreach event in Broad St Mall on World TB Day 2017;

·         the design and delivery with Healthwatch Reading of a knowledge attitudes and behaviours survey among at risk communities – the results of which will inform further communication and engagement;

·         TB awareness  session organised by Reading wellbeing team and supported by Heath watch Reading  for the Pakistani community on 4th October;

·         TB awareness  session organised by Reading wellbeing team and supported by SRCCG/ Heath watch Reading for the Nepalese community on 11th October;

·         Promotion of Healthwatch Reading TB survey – through local authority Comms channels- Survey roll out completed –Final report due in December;

·         TB information stands organised during four local events to raise awareness on LTBI screening services– Health & Wellbeing Week targeting staffs at RBH (8th Sep); Compass Recovery College Prospectus Launch event(16th August); New Directions event (16th Sept) and Older people’s day event (9th Oct);

·         Upcoming  event- a workshop to reduce TB in Berkshire on 5th December  – which will be attended by national TB Leads.

The success of the new entrant programme in identifying and testing increasing numbers of eligible residents has enabled continued funding to employ a dedicated Latent TB Programme Manager for South Reading from 2017, this will enable close working with TB nurses, Reading Public Health Team and community groups across Reading to reach out to less well served communities  to improve uptake of testing and encourage early presentation and timely onward referral for anyone with TB symptoms.

This work programme has enabled many more Reading residents to be screened and treated for latent TB and is continuing to improve awareness of TB more widely in Reading. The work has been recognised as an example of good practice by Public Health England and has been presented nationally to TB nurses.

General TB Information

TB remains an epidemic in much of the world, causing the deaths of nearly one-and-a-half million people each year, mostly in developing countries.

Although the incidence of TB has significantly reduced in the UK since the introduction of antibiotics, it has not yet been eradicated. There were 6,520 cases in 2014, of which 72 per cent were found among people born outside the UK. Of these, 86 per cent were among people that had been in the country for longer than two years – suggesting reactivation of latent TB.

In Reading, 58 cases of TB were reported in 2014, compared to 43 cases in 2012.  At 36 cases per 100,000, that is three times the 12 per 100,000 rate for the UK.

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: www.nhs.uk/conditions/tuberculosis

For a world map showing countries with high rates of TB, see the World Health Organization (WHO) website: http://gamapserver.who.int/mapLibrary/Files/Maps/Global_TBincidence_2013.png

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

Victoria Nickless

For media enquiries about this release email victoria.nickless@reading.gov.uk or call 0118 937 3957