Dozens of people in Leeds suffer from Tuberculosis, meeting hears

A backlog of tuberculosis (TB) patients have been left waiting for care in Leeds, where rates of the disease are higher than the national average.

By David Spereall
Saturday, 30th April 2022, 4:30 pm

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said the Covid pandemic had negatively affected screening rates and treatment for TB.

Read More

Read More
NHS crisis: GP shortage won’t be resolved quickly, health chief warns

The agency has identified tackling the disease as a priority for Leeds’ health authorities over the next year.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Health chiefs in the city say TB rates are higher in Leeds than elsewhere in the country. (Pic: James Hardisty)

TB is a bacterial infection, which can be contagious and most commonly affects the lungs, which has led some to mistake its symptoms for Covid.

Although sufferers can come down with symptoms soon after catching it, in others it can lie dormant for many years before becoming active later on. Those cases are classed as “latent”.

Martin Bewley, from the UKHSA, said that migrants and the homeless were among those especially vulnerable disease.

Speaking at a Leeds health and wellbeing board meeting on Thursday, he said: “The UK has one of the highest rates of TB in Western Europe, often clustered in urban centres.

“Screening of vulnerable groups is important to identify the active contagious disease and the latent disease to prevent future cases occurring.”

In 2021, around 7.8 people per 100,000 in Leeds were known to be infected with TB.

Although that’s slightly higher than the England average of 7.3, the illness was far more common in neighbouring Bradford, where the rate was around 13.2.

Mr Bewley said that Leeds had maintained a high “treatment success rate” for TB during the pandemic. He also praised the city’s health authorities for providing food and travel vouchers for patients to help them get additional support.

He added: “However, the pandemic has hit other aspects of TB work, including screening for latent disease, which fell away during the pandemic.

“There’s also been a reduced awareness of the disease and confusion of TB symptoms with Covid symptoms, which has led to delays in diagnosis.

“Screening numbers are now starting to recover, but there’s still a backlog of patients requiring treatment.”