24 March 2017

While NSW has one of the lowest rates of tuberculosis in the world there is no room for complacency in the fight against the disease, NSW Health said today – World TB Day.

NSW Health’s Director of Communicable Diseases, Dr Vicky Sheppeard, said around 1,300 new cases of TB are reported annually in Australia, including around 533 in NSW in 2016.

“Thanks to NSW Health’s strong network of free chest clinics, patients can be diagnosed rapidly and people at risk of TB followed up,” Dr Sheppeard said.

“However, many countries are not so lucky. The World Health Organization reports that 10.4 million people around the world fell ill with TB in 2015 and 1.8 million people died from the disease. With globalisation, air travel and migration, TB will remain a public health concern in NSW and Australia until worldwide control of TB is achieved.

“NSW Health continues to work with the community, healthcare workers and other government departments, states and territories to prevent and control TB.”

NSW Health takes the following actions to prevent TB:

  • the NSW TB Program – that includes a network of specialised TB services (Chest Clinics) across the state, provides free, confidential and culturally appropriate services to ensure everyone in NSW gets the TB care they need
  • supporting the screening and prevention of TB in refugees
  • investigating the use of new state-of-the-art whole genome sequencing technology to better understand TB transmission to better target prevention
  • working closely with Aboriginal communities to encourage early diagnosis and treatment of TB among Aboriginal people in NSW.

The symptoms of TB include a cough that lasts more than three weeks, fever, unexplained weight loss, night sweats and tiredness.

World TB day aims to build public awareness for action against TB, a disease which despite being curable, remains a destructive epidemic in much of the world. The theme of this year’s World TB Day is “Unite to end TB”, emphasising the need for a whole of society approach to end TB.

World TB Day commemorates the day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch announced to the scientific community that he had discovered the cause of tuberculosis, the TB bacillus.

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