Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point
On Air
Low Graphics

Thursday, July 2, 1998 Published at 15:37 GMT 16:37 UK


Drug resistant TB poses major health threat

Patients with resistant strains should be isolated

Tuberculosis could make a major re-emergence in the UK unless treatment procedures are tightened up, experts have warned.

The British Thoracic Society (BTS) said patients with resistant TB strains should only be treated by experienced physicians in hospitals with full isolation facilities.

Non-compliant patients, including the homeless, the mentally ill and drug and alcohol abusers, should receive "Directly Observed Therapy" (DOT) in which health workers or friends watch patients take their medicine, said the Society.

Strains of TB resistant to most antibiotics are already gaining a foothold in eastern Europe and pose a serious global health threat.

The BTS presented its guidelines for averting the danger in the UK at its summer meeting in Edinburgh.

The Society also recommended that:

  • All TB patients must be notified and seen by a lung physician experienced in dealing with the disease;

  • A minimum of one full-time TB nurse or health visitor with full clerical support should be available for each of 50 TB cases per year in every district;

  • Six-month courses of treatment should be offered incorporating four different drugs taken on a daily or three times a week basis;

  • Children with TB should be treated by a paediatrician with experience of the disease, or by a general paediatrician in conjunction with a TB specialist.

A disease of today

Dr Peter Ormerod, chairman of the Joint TB Committee of the British Thoracic Society, said: "TB is a disease of today and has not been confined to the history books. With more than 6,200 new cases of this disease last year in the UK, we cannot be complacent.

"Stringent procedures for the diagnosis and treatment of TB must be in place in hospitals across the UK. This will only happen if specialist lung physicians with experience in TB are involved in the treatment of TB patients."

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Health Contents

Background Briefings
Medical notes
Relevant Stories

23 Jun 98 | Health
US approves first new TB drug in 25 years

10 Jun 98 | Latest News
Breakthrough in TB battle

26 May 98 | Medical notes

Internet Links

Tuberculosis information

Respiratory Medicine

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Disability in depth

Spotlight: Bristol inquiry

Antibiotics: A fading wonder

Mental health: An overview

Alternative medicine: A growth industry

The meningitis files

Long-term care: A special report

Aids up close

From cradle to grave

NHS reforms: A guide

NHS Performance 1999

From Special Report
NHS in crisis: Special report

British Medical Association conference '99

Royal College of Nursing conference '99