Specialists raise awareness of tuberculosis ahead of World TB Day

A team of specialist tuberculosis (TB) nurses are holding an information event in Sheffield city centre to raise awareness of the illness.

The event will be held outside Sheffield Cathedral on Tuesday March 19th ahead of World TB Day.

The Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Community TB Nursing Team aims to raise awareness that TB remains an epidemic in much of the world, causing the deaths of nearly one-and-a-half million people each year, the majority in developing countries.

In Sheffield, there have been 88 cases of TB since April 2018.

Specialist Nurse Alison Haigh said: “We want to promote our services because often people aren’t aware that TB is still around and it can still be a killer.

“So as well as treating and supporting patients, a big part of our role is around education and raising awareness with the public and other health professionals.

“The world is a smaller place now, people travel more so are at more risk of exposure.

“Thanks to better screening and facilities rates are going down but people still need to be aware of the risk.”

TB is a bacterial infection that mainly affects the lungs, but can affect any part of the body, including the abdomen, glands, bones and nervous system.

Symptoms include a prolonged cough (sometimes coughing up blood), night sweats, weight loss and fatigue.

Although TB can almost always be cured with appropriate treatment, it can be fatal if left undiagnosed.

The TB Nursing Team treat patients diagnosed with TB, carry out screenings for high-risk groups (for example, those arriving in the UK from countries with a high prevalence of TB, or people who have been in close contact with someone with infectious TB), and do educational work such as giving talks at community centres, workplaces and schools.

They also work with projects that support vulnerable groups, such as homeless people, who are more likely to have low immune systems and are therefore more at risk. They are currently working with a homeless charity to set up a screening programme.

As well as the specialist nursing team, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals also has specialist consultants in infectious diseases and respiratory medicine, and the wider team also includes specialists in microbiology, radiology and pharmacy. The team also work together with paediatrics (child care) and public health services.

The event at the Cathedral will run from 10am to 3.30pm. Anyone is welcome to attend. There will be information about the signs and symptoms of TB, how to access care and the opportunity to ask the specialist nurses questions.

More information about the causes, symptoms and treatment for TB is available at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/tuberculosis-tb/

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