London Loves Business
January 27, 2014
A highly infectious form of drug-resistant tuberculosis is on the rise in London. Health experts have warned that the bacterial infection, which is spread through coughing and sneezing, could leave London on the verge of a TB epidemic.
According to the BBC, scientists have discovered that mutations of the bacteria have rapidly become resistant to all known antibiotics and medications.
London has the highest rate of TB of any western European Capital, with a worrying 42 out of every 10,000 people suffering from the disease. The national figure is 14 per 10,000.
Over the past 12 months, 3,500 Londoners were diagnosed with the disease, with areas such as Newham, Brent, Greenwich and Tower Hamlets among the worst affected.
TB treatments are expensive as the bacteria are already resistant to a range of medicines. Treatment can cost £50,000 – £100,000 per patient over two years.
In Victorian London, TB killed one in four Londoners. The introduction of penicillin in the twentieth century all but eradicated the disease, but as antibiotic-resistant mutations have appeared, the disease has made a comeback.
Around 75% of TB cases in London today are found in those from countries where TB is more common, such as areas in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
Speaking to the BBC, Professor Ajit Lalvani, from the National Heart and Lung Institute said that more screening tests are needed to identify latent symptoms of TB that could be brought into the country by immigrants.