To determine current trends in mortality from tuberculosis according to age the published data on notification and deaths from tuberculosis from 1974 to 1987 have been analysed. The ratio of deaths to notifications per year was assessed over this period as a measure of case fatality from tuberculosis. The mean annual decline in the ratio for each age group was as follows: 0-14 years 6.7% (95% confidence interval 4.00 to 9.6%), 15-34 years 1.4% (-0.2 to 3.0%), 35-54 years 4.5% (2.2 to 6.9%), 55-74 years 2.8% (1.8 to 3.7%), and 75+ years 3.2% (2.1 to 4.2%). Because the incidence of disease in the 75+ group has declined much more slowly than in the rest of the population and because the size of this age group has increased in relation to the other groups, the overall annual mortality from tuberculosis has declined by only 0.13% (95% CI -1.3 to 1.3%). The total number of deaths from tuberculosis declined from 996 in 1974 to 430 in 1987, whereas deaths in the 75+ age group remained relatively constant at around 200 a year.
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