TB screening needed in high-prevalence areas

GPs should screen for TB in areas of the UK where the disease has a high prevalence, UK research suggests.

In the London borough of Hackney, where the study was conducted, the incidence of TB is rising yearly. There are 66 cases per 100,000 of TB in Hackney, compared to 15 per 100,000 nationally.

Researchers measured the effectiveness of verbal screening and skin testing for TB in patients registering in Hackney.

Half of the 50 practices in the borough carried out the tests and the rest were a control group.

They found detection rates for TB in the intervention practices were 13 per cent higher than those in the control group and detection rates for the latent form of the disease were 10 per cent higher.

The rates of BCG vaccination against TB were seven times higher for practices with the screening programme.

Dr Dave Mant, of the department of primary healthcare at the University of Oxford, said the next step was to apply the Hackney model in other areas where TB is common.

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