Doctor urges people to get specific cough checked – could be linked to TB

CDC explains how tuberculosis can be transmitted

An urgent warning has been issued to those who experience a specific type of cough following a “concerning” rise in cases of what is often considered a Victorian disease.

According to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) cases of tuberculosis, or TB, have increased across most of the region.

It is now a “serious public health issue”, the authority says.

TB is a serious infection that typically affects the lungs and if left untreated can be fatal.

As reported by the Manchester Evening News (MEN), new data has revealed an 8.1 percent increase in TB notifications during the first nine months of this year, compared to the same period in 2022.

READ MORE Deadly Victorian disease is here in England – check cases in your area

In the most recent three months the north east and Yorkshire and the Humber have been the worst hit, the UKHSA says.

Now doctors are urging people who display any symptoms of TB to see their GP.

In a statement, the UKHSA said: “Early diagnosis means starting treatment sooner and protecting yourself and those around you.”

Dr Esther Robinson, who is involved with TB surveillance at the UKHSA, said there is a specific kind of cough that could be a red flag sign of the infection.

However, she warned that with winter approaching people could confuse it for a symptom of flu or COVID-19.

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As reported by MEN, she said: “We are concerned that TB cases have increased in some parts of England.

“TB is curable and preventable but despite significant progress towards elimination in recent years, the disease remains a serious public health issue.

“With treatment, most people will make a full recovery, so it’s very important those with symptoms are tested for TB and appropriate treatment is started promptly, both for the individual and to prevent transmission.”

If you experience a cough that lasts longer than three weeks, and if it contains mucus, should prompt a visit to the doctor, she said.

Dr Robinson said: “As we head into winter, we should be mindful that not every persistent cough, along with a fever, is caused by flu or COVID-19.

“A cough that usually has mucus and lasts longer than three weeks can be caused by a range of other issues, including TB.

“Contact your GP if you think you could be at risk, so you can get tested and treated if needed.”

The NHS lists a persistent cough as a sign of TB.

It could also contain mucus or mucus with blood in it.

Symptoms of tuberculosis can come on “gradually”, the health body says.

Other symptoms include:

  • Feeling tired or exhausted
  • A high temperature or night sweats
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Feeling generally unwell.

If the infection spreads to other parts of the body it can cause:

  • Swollen glands
  • Body aches and pains
  • Swollen joints or ankles
  • Tummy or pelvic pain
  • Constipation
  • Dark or cloudy pee
  • A headache
  • Being sick
  • Feeling confused
  • A stiff neck
  • A rash on the legs, face or other part of the body.

TB is caused by a bacteria and is spread through close contact with infected, symptomatic people.

If an infected person coughs they will release the bacteria through small droplets, which can be breathed in.

In most cases TB can be treated with a six-month course of antibiotics, but if it has spread you will also need to take steroid medication.

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