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21 August 2013, 05:46
The number of cases of tuberculosis diagnosed in the North East increased in 2012 but were half the national average.
A total of 166 cases were diagnosed in 2012 compared to 131 in 2011 following a steady decline over the previous four years - but the rate is still less than half the national average.
Rates of TB have stabilised nationally at around 14 cases per 100,000 since the mid-2000s.
The rate in the North East is 6.4 per 100,000.
Nationally, as in previous years, almost three quarters of cases were in people born in countries where TB is more common.
Of those born abroad, the majority of cases were from South Asia (60 per cent) and sub-Saharan Africa (22 per cent).
In the UK-born population, those most at risk are people from ethnic minority groups, those with social risk factors such as a history of homelessness, imprisonment or problem use of drugs or alcohol and the elderly.
Paul Davison, director of health protection at the North East PHE Centre, said:
"TB is a preventable and treatable condition, but, if left untreated, can be life-threatening.
Although we have seen an increase in the number of cases diagnosed in the North East, we think that a proportion of this may be due to improved reporting systems, and we still have some of the lowest levels of the disease in the country.
Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment are key so we encourage local health service commissioners to prioritise the delivery of appropriate clinical and public health services for TB."