Public health officials in Coventry are urging residents to be aware of the symptoms of tuberculosis as part of World TB Day.

The event, which takes place on 24 March each year, aims to raise awareness about the devastating health, social and economic consequences of tuberculosis and step-up efforts to end the global TB epidemic.

The common symptoms of tuberculosis include a cough that lasts more than three weeks, unexplained weight loss, a high temperature, heavy night sweats, a lack of appetite and feeling very tired and having no energy.

Over the last few decades, a combination of early identification and treatment has seen the number of new cases of tuberculosis in England fall considerably.

However, there are still around 4,000 new cases per year. In addition, there are many more people with latent infection, which means they carry the bacteria but have not yet developed symptoms and are not infectious to others.

In recent years, Coventry has had one of the highest number of cases in the West Midlands leading to calls for people to be more aware of the symptoms of the infectious disease.

Cllr Kamran Caan, Cabinet Member Public Health and Sport, said: “The symptoms of TB can be similar to many other respiratory conditions, including cold and flu, so it can be easy to miss them.

“That is why we are asking people to be aware of the common symptoms such as a persistent cough that lasts more than three weeks, unexplained weight loss, night sweats, high temperature, tiredness and fatigue or a loss of appetite to ‘Think TB’ and seek advice from a healthcare professional if they are concerned.”

At-risk groups include those in close contact with someone who’s infected for prolonged periods of time, for example living in the same home and those with a weakened immune system.

TB is curable but can be serious if left untreated. Treatment is free for everybody.

Allison Duggal, Director of Public Health and Wellbeing at Coventry City Council, added: “Tuberculosis is the number one cause of death from infectious disease in the world, but many people in the UK are under the impression it has been eradicated. Unfortunately, it has not.

“Currently, 40% of Coventry’s cases are from white British residents. The disease will appear in all communities and areas of the city so always be aware of your health and those around you. It is really important for people to be aware of TB to help with getting the disease diagnosed faster to stop TB spreading further and infecting more people.”

Residents can help Coventry in supporting the city to reduce the risk of onward transmission of TB by seeing a GP if symptoms appear.

More information about TB can be found on the Council’s website.

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