This page consists of all the official information you need with regards to TB and who you need to contact in case of any concerns.
TB is a disease caused by an airborne bacteria (germ) called mycobacterium tuberculosis. It most commonly affects the lungs, but can affect any part of the body. Infection with the TB germ may not develop into TB disease. The number of people with TB in the UK is very high and anyone can be affected. It is curable with a course of special antibiotics.
TB can only be caught by breathing in the TB germ. When a person with TB of the lungs coughs or sneezes, they send droplets in to the air which may contain the TB germ. You need to be in close contact with somebody coughing up the germs over a prolonged period of time to be at risk of infection. Most people with a healthy immune system will get rid of the infection spontaneously, but there is a small chance that you could become infected and go on to develop symptoms over the following few weeks or months (active TB infection). It is also possible to become infected with the TB germ, but not develop any symptoms or be infectious to others (this is called latent TB infection). You then have a small risk over your lifetime that the germ will become active and cause you to develop TB disease. Most people infected with TB do not know they have been infected and never develop any illness.
TB is not spread by:
- Shaking someone's hand or by touch
- Sharing food or drink or using the same plates & cutlery
- Touching bed linens
- Sharing toilet seats
- Sharing toothbrush
TB is most likely to affect the lungs. TB disease develops slowly in the body, and it often takes several months for symptoms to appear.
Any of the following symptoms may suggest TB:
- A cough that last for over three weeks, especially if it has not improved with antibiotics
- Coughing up blood in some case
- Sweating at night
- Loss of appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
- Unusual sense of tiredness and being unwell
If you are concerned that you might have TB, visit your GP for advice. If you are not registered a GP go to question 5 for further advice on what to do.
Anybody can get TB although some people are more at risk than others. TB is difficult to catch. You are most at risk if someone you have close and regular contact with has the disease, such as housemates, close friends or family members.
The following people have a greater chance of being infected with TB if exposed to it:
- Those who have links to a part of the world where TB is more common. For more information on which countries have high rates of TB, please click here.
- Those with a weakened immune system (the body's natural defence). E.g. taking medicines that weakens the immune system, HIV positive, diabetic, chronic poor health
- Those who are dependent on alcohol and/or drugs
- Those living in overcrowded or poorly ventilated housing
Do not ignore TB symptoms. They can appear slowly and you may not have all of them. You must seek prompt medical advice even if you're not sure, which can be accessed from a range of services. They will then be able to refer you to a local TB specialist for further investigation and treatment.
If you are registered with a GP you should make an appointment to see them. If you are not registered, promptly register with a local GP and explain your concerns.
There is a GP surgery linked to the University. Please contact them for further advice/registration:
2. Walk in centres (WICs)
If you are not registered with a GP, you can seek medical advice from an NHS WICs without an appointment. WICs offer convenient access to a range of treatment and are usually open 7 days per week. There are two WICs located within the Borough of Barnet:
Edgware NHS Walk-in Centre - Edgware Community Hospital Burnt Oak Broadway Edgware Middlesex HA8 0AD. Phone 020 8732 6459
Finchley NHS Walk-in Centre - Finchley NHS Walk-in Centre Finchley Memorial Hospital
Granville Road London N12 0JE. Phone: 020 8349 7470
3. NHS Hospitals
If you cannot assess any of the above and are unwell with TB type symptoms, please go to your nearest casualty (A&E) department. They will refer you to a specialist in TB if they think you may have TB.
For locations of other WICs or urgent care centres please refer to the NHS Choices website by clicking here.
You may need a few different tests to show whether you have TB, such as a sputum (spit) test, a chest X-ray and skin test. Further details of the different tests used to diagnose TB can be found by clickinghere.
TB is curable and treatment is free for everyone who needs it. Treatment is usually a 6 month course of special antibiotics. It is essential to complete the full course of treatment; drug resistant TB is becoming more common because people who have had TB previously did not complete their treatment. This can result in the bacteria not being completely eradicated from your body and can lead to the bacteria developing resistance to the drugs you were taking, causing disease again. It is more difficult to treat drug resistant TB and the course of antibiotics will have to be taken for up to 18 months.
No – it is free for everyone who needs it.
TB alert http://www.thetruthabouttb.org/
NHS choices http://www.nhs.uk/Pages/HomePage.aspx
Public Health England http://www.hpa.org.uk/Topics/InfectiousDiseases/InfectionsAZ/Tuberculosis/