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Tuberculosis at the end of the 20th century in England and Wales: results of a national survey in 1998


BACKGROUND A national survey of tuberculosis was conducted in England and Wales in 1998 to obtain detailed information on the occurrence of the disease and recent trends. This survey also piloted the methodology for enhanced tuberculosis surveillance in England and Wales and investigated the prevalence of HIV infection in adults with tuberculosis.

METHODS Clinical and demographic data for all cases diagnosed during 1998 were obtained, together with microbiological data where available. Annual incidence rates in the population were estimated by age, sex, ethnic group, and geographical region using denominators from the 1998 Labour Force Survey. Incidence rates in different subgroups of the population were compared with the rates observed in previous surveys. The tuberculosis survey database for 1998 was matched against the Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre HIV/AIDS database to estimate the prevalence of HIV co-infection in adult patients with tuberculosis.

RESULTS A total of 5658 patients with tuberculosis were included in the survey in England and Wales (94% of all formally notified cases during the same period), giving an annual rate of 10.93 per 100 000 population (95% CI 10.87 to 10.99). This represented an increase of 11% in the number of cases since the survey in 1993 and 21% since 1988. In many regions case numbers have remained little changed since 1988, but in London an increase of 71% was observed. The number of children with tuberculosis has decreased by 10% since 1993. Annual rates of tuberculosis per 100 000 population have continued to decline among the white population (4.38) and those from the Indian subcontinent, although the rate for the latter has remained high at 121 per 100 000. Annual rates per 100 000 have increased in all other ethnic groups, especially among those of black African (210) and Chinese (77.3) origin. Over 50% of all patients were born outside the UK. Recent entrants to the UK had higher rates of the disease than those who had been in the country for more than 5 years or who had been born in the UK. An estimated 3.3% of all adults with tuberculosis were co-infected with HIV.

CONCLUSIONS The epidemiology of tuberculosis continues to change in England and Wales and the annual number of cases is rising. More than one third of cases now occur in young adults and rates are particularly high in those recently arrived from high prevalence areas of the world. The geographical distribution is uneven with urban centres having the highest rates. The increase in the number of cases in London is particularly large. Tuberculosis in patients co-infected with HIV makes a small but important contribution to the overall increase, particularly in London. To be most effective and to make the most efficient use of resources, tuberculosis prevention and control measures must be based on accurate and timely information on the occurrence of disease. A new system of continuous enhanced tuberculosis surveillance was introduced in 1999, based on the methodology developed in this national survey.

  • tuberculosis
  • national survey
  • HIV co-infection
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  • TB at the end of the 20th century

    In the paper entitled "Tuberculosis at the end of the 20th century in England and Wales: results of a national survey in 1998" by A M C Rose et al which appeared on pp 173�9 of the March 2001 issue of Thorax, the data for the South East region were omitted from table 3[t3] on page 176 of the paper. The correct version of the table is shown here. The authors apologise for this omission.

    Corrected table


  • The survey was funded by the Department of Health.

  • Conflicts of interest: none.

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