Posted on Tuesday 20 March 2018
Margaret Ogedengbe (left) and Simin Mousavi from the community TB team
Health professionals are urging people with symptoms of Tuberculosis (TB) to get a health check this World TB Day (Saturday 24 March), so they get early treatment and avoid passing the condition to family and friends. The main signs of TB are a persistent cough of three weeks or more, night sweats, temperature and weight loss.
More than 4,500 people with TB in Lambeth and Southwark have been successfully treated since the boroughs’ community TB service, now run by Guy’s and St Thomas’, was launched in 1994. TB is a life-threatening illness if left untreated.
The Trust has seen an increase in latent TB cases, where people appear to be well with no obvious symptoms, but who may go on to develop full blown TB at some point in their life. In 2017, Guy’s and St Thomas’ treated 162 patients with latent TB and, so far this year, more than 30 patients have been treated.
Margaret Ogedengbe, clinical TB nurse manager for the community TB team, says: “Sometimes people do not have all the classic symptoms of TB such as a cough of more than three weeks or night sweats. So if they are feeling under the weather they put it down to working too hard, worry about exams or other health conditions. But TB can affect any part of the body, not only the lungs.
“It’s important to go to your GP to have symptoms checked so you can be cured and don’t pass the condition on to family and friends.”
Whilst the number of TB cases in England is falling – there were 5,664 confirmed cases in 2016 compared to 8,280 in 2011 – the country has one of the highest rates of TB in Western Europe.
Guy's and St Thomas' community team runs TB clinics at St Thomas' Hospital, King's College Hospital and University Hospital Lewisham. Staff also visit patients at home or in other locations that are more convenient to them and support them throughout treatment.
For more information visit www.nhs.uk.