TB or not TB, that is the question

A series of events are taking place across Birmingham to screen eligible people who may be carrying TB without them knowing it.

If people aged 16-35 were born in one of the 70 at risk countries, or have lived there for more than six months in the last five years, they could have the tuberculosis (TB) bacteria ‘sleeping’ inside them, otherwise known as latent TB.

The 70 countries include Thailand, India and the Philippines.

Latent TB has no symptoms and can remain dormant for years in someone’s lungs without them knowing 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.

Latent TB can be tested for by using a blood test, and screening is specially advised for people who were born in or have lived in one of the 70 at risk countries for more than six months in the last five years. The blood test can be taken at a local GP practice and if tested positive for latent TB, the patient can be cured with a course of antibiotics. It is important to remember that if the patient receives a negative test result, the bacteria can still enter the body in the future.

In order to try and reach people, a series of screening events have been organised across Birmingham venues where English courses are being run.

  • Monday February 12 and Thursday February 15 - Matthew Boulton College, Jennens Road, Birmingham, B4 7PS
  • Tuesday February 13 - Sparkhill Adult Education Centre, 477 Stratford Road, Birmingham, B11 4LE
  • Tuesday March 13 and Wednesday March 14 - Handsworth Campus, Soho Road, Birmingham, B21 9DP
  • Tuesday April 24 and Wednesday April 25 - Bordesley Green Centre, Fordrough Lane, Birmingham, B9 5NA
  • Tuesday May 1 - Fusion Centre, 334 - 339 Bradford Street, Birmingham, B5 6ES
  • Wednesday May 2 - Hall Green Centre, Cole Bank Road, Hall Green, Birmingham, 
  • Thursday May 3 - Golden Hillock Women's Centre, Golden Hillock Road, Small Heath, Birmingham

Dr Peter Ingham, Clinical Chair of Birmingham and Solihull CCGs, said: “Birmingham has a growing migrant population who may be at risk from active TB in the future. Screening for latent TB is a way that we can prevent and reduce the risk of our population getting ill.”

Screening for latent TB is easy, and can be done at the patient’s local GP practice. People within the age 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 are urged to book an appointment with their GP now.

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