Surveillance report Open Access
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As in other countries with low tuberculosis incidence, tuberculosis in England and Wales tends to be concentrated in some subgroups of the population, and is mainly a problem in large cities. In 2003, almost half of all tuberculosis cases reported in England and Wales were from London, where the incidence was almost five times higher than in the rest of England and Wales. While the highest proportion of cases occur in foreign born patients, evidence from a large outbreak of drug resistant tuberculosis points to ongoing active transmission among marginalised groups including homeless people, hard drug users, and prisoners. Increasing rates of disease and levels of drug resistance, combined with a concentration of disease in hard-to-reach risk groups now present a major challenge to tuberculosis control in the city. To respond to the changing epidemiology observed in recent years, treatment and control services are being reconfigured, surveillance has been improved with the implementation of the London TB register, and the utility of mobile digital x ray screening for at risk populations such as homeless people and prisoners is being evaluated. However, tuberculosis in London is not yet under control and more needs to be done. Services must adapt to the needs of those groups now most affected. This will require continued improvements to surveillance and monitoring, combined with improved access to care, better case detection, rapid diagnosis and active social support for people undergoing treatment.


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