TB is becoming a major concern across Huddersfield and Kirklees.
Now health chiefs and council officials are to draw up an action plan to try to stem the rising rate of the disease – once thought to have been eradicated.
Councillors will tomorrow be given an update on the worrying situation, which has seen rates of TB soar in the region to far above the national average.
And there are concerns that many sufferers fail to complete courses of treatment, which exacerbates the problems.
Tuberculosis (TB) is an illness caused by a bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
TB most commonly affects the lungs, but can affect any part of the body.
Most cases of TB are curable with a course of antibiotics, usually lasting six months or more.
The most common symptoms of TB include a cough that lasts for more than three weeks, fever, night sweats, unexplained weight loss, fatigue and loss of appetite.
In a report to the meeting Jane O’Donnell, head of health protection, said: “TB remains a public health challenge for Kirklees. Since 2004 there has been a steady increase in the incidence of TB in Kirklees, with a three-fold increase in the 25-34 year age group.
“The incidence of TB in Kirklees is higher than the national and regional averages and is amongst the highest rates in the UK, outside London.
“The district sees approximately 120 cases of TB each year with roughly half of the cases of Pakistani origin. Although the majority of cases are non-UK born, TB infection occurs many years after migration, indicating that there is an opportunity to intervene to prevent disease occurring.
“The majority of people with TB in Kirklees live in deprived parts of Huddersfield, Batley and Dewsbury. Alcohol and drug misuse, homelessness and a prison record are the most commonly reported social risk factors for TB.
“Transmission of TB in these so-called ‘hard-to-reach groups’ has contributed to clusters and outbreaks of TB in Kirklees.
“The current reorganisation of the health and social care services and re-structuring of the Public Health function has highlighted the need for a fresh look at the challenges posed by TB in Kirklees”
Councillors on a Scrutiny Committee will also be told that successful treatment requires adherence to a complex drug regimen over a minimum of six months.
If treatment is not taken correctly, or is stopped, there is a higher risk of complications and/or the development of drug resistant TB, which has been identified by WHO as a major threat to global public health.
Mrs O’Donnell said: “While treatment completion rates have improved in Kirklees, we are aware of a number of cases where treatment is interrupted and therefore prolonged with increased risk of transmission and drug-resistance.
“Therefore to control TB should be seen as a priority for the wider Kirklees health and wellbeing agenda”.