- 9,000 cases of tuberculosis in the UK last year – up 5% on the year before
- Immigrants currently screened using chest X-ray
- But experts argue this 100-year-old method only spots people with advanced disease, meaning many with no symptoms are missed
- Calling for blood test used in the U.S. to be standard test
PUBLISHED: 07:01 EST, 7 December 2012 | UPDATED: 11:16 EST, 7 December 2012
A leading doctor has warned that Britain will be ‘swamped’ by tuberculosis unless new measures to diagnose the disease in immigrants are introduced.
The disease, which was rife in Britain until the 1950s, is an increasing and worrying problem in urban areas. Rising immigration has seen a surge in cases in the last 20 years.
Under current rules, new immigrants from countries where TB is common are required to have chest X-rays before being allowed into Britain.
But doctors argue this century-old method only spots active TB once it is already destroying the lungs – meaning cases are often diagnosed far too late.
Other countries such as the U.S. use a blood test, which can detect the latent TB in those not displaying any symptoms. Cases have fallen since this technique was introduced in 2007.