260 screened for Latent TB to protect Sandwell and West Birmingham community

Text size:

Two hundred and sixty people were screened for Latent TB (tuberculosis) at Sandwell College as part of a campaign to protect the health of people living in Sandwell and West Birmingham. 20 people were tested positive at the event and are now receiving treatment with a course of antibiotics.

Watch the video of the event below:

The area is one of the highest in the country for incidences of TB with latest figures showing that there were 34.9 incidences per 100,000 population on average in Sandwell and West Birmingham over a three-year period. This is compared with the national average of just 9.9% over the same period.

NHS Sandwell and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has been working in partnership with Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust to screen eligible people living in the Sandwell and West Birmingham area who may be carrying TB (tuberculosis) without them knowing it.

Latent TB has no symptoms and can remain dormant for years in someone’s lungs without them being aware that they have the bacteria. The bacteria remain inactive and non-infectious, until triggered. Triggering effects can include dramatic lifestyle changes or other illnesses that can weaken the immune system. Once active, TB becomes contagious and, if left untreated, can cause death.

At particular risk are people aged 16-35 from Sub-Saharan Africa and the Indian Sub-Continent who were either born there, or have lived there for more than six months in the last five years. In total there are 70 at risk countries, including Thailand, India and the Philippines, where people are at increased risk of having the TB bacteria ‘sleeping’ inside them, otherwise known as latent TB.

In order to try and identify those who might be at risk, and reassure those who are not, NHS Sandwell and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group has developed a survey which will help people discover whether they should consider being screened by their GP. The survey can be found here https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/latenttb

Dr Ian Sykes, Chair of NHS Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG, said:

“We are delighted that 260 people who were potentially at risk were able to benefit from a simple check for latent TB at Sandwell College. By picking up latent TB we can prevent people from developing active TB and prevent diseases spreading in the population.

“If a person has latent TB, then they have TB bacteria 'asleep' in their body. They are not ill at the moment, but the TB bacteria can 'wake up' and make them ill with TB in the future. The good news is that latent TB can be treated to help stop this happening with a course of antibiotics.

“Screening for latent TB is easy, and can be done at the patient’s local GP practice. We encourage all people within the age range of 16-35 who were born in or have lived in one of the 70 at risk countries for longer than six months in the last five years, to complete the survey and if necessary book an appointment with their GP.”