People are being urged to be aware of the symptoms of tuberculosis (TB).

TB is an infectious illness spread through inhaling small droplets from the coughs or sneezes of an infected person and can cause serious health problems – particularly if it is not caught early. It is preventable and curable but still kills 3 people around the globe every minute.

World TB Day is being marked tomorrow (Friday 24 March, 2023) to raise public awareness about the devastating health, social and economic consequences of tuberculosis and step up efforts to end the global TB epidemic.

The common symptoms of tuberculosis include a cough that lasts more than three weeks, unexplained weight loss, a high temperature, heavy night sweats, a lack of appetite and feeling very tired and having no energy.

Over the last few decades, a combination of early identification and treatment have seen the number of new cases of tuberculosis in the England fall considerably. However, there are still approximately 4,000 new cases per year. In addition, there are many more people with latent infection, which means they carry the bacteria but have not yet developed symptoms and are not infectious to others.

To mark World TB Day, Wolverhampton’s TB Team will be hosting a stand outside Greggs at New Cross Hospital between 10am and 2pm to provide both staff and patients with information about tuberculosis and the role of the team in helping to combat it in Wolverhampton.  

John Denley, Director of Public Health, said: “The symptoms of TB can be similar to many other respiratory conditions, including Covid-19, so it can be easy to miss them.

“That is why we are asking people to be aware of the common symptoms such as a persistent cough that lasts more than 3 weeks, unexplained weight loss, night sweats, high temperature, tiredness and fatigue or a loss of appetite to ‘Think TB’ and seek advice from a healthcare professional if they are concerned.”

Although almost anyone can get TB, the most at risk include those who live in, come from, or have spent time in a country or area with high levels of TB. Other at-risk groups include those in close contact with someone who's infected for prolonged periods of time, for example living in the same home and those with a weakened immune system.

Craig Hubbard, The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust’s TB Nurse Lead Specialist, said: “One way that we work to detect cases quickly, is to offer free testing and treatment to those who are at greater risk of having a latent form of TB infection.  

“People with latent TB do not have symptoms and not infectious but, if left untreated, could go on to develop active infection in the future.”

Wolverhampton’s TB Service accepts referrals from GPs and healthcare professionals for all active, latent and suspected TB.  For general guidance and reassurance, call 01902 695940.  

The Stop TB Partnership are championing this year as a year of hope with the theme ‘Yes! We can end TB!’, bringing attention to TB and our collective power to end TB by 2030. For more information, visit World TB Day 2023.