According to experts, the Victorian disease tuberculosis is on the march. Figures released by the Health Protection Agency of UK show an increase by 2 percent in number of TB cases over the last year.
The figures, released ahead of World TB Day, which falls on the 24th of March, are provisional and relate to England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
London continues to account for the highest proportion of cases (42 percent) but the actual numbers have fallen from 3,541 in 2005 to 3,445 in 2006.
Says Dr. John Watson, head of the HPA's respiratory diseases department: "Since the late 1980s the number of people diagnosed with TB has risen every year and, in line with this trend, 2006 shows a slight increase. During 2005 we saw a large rise in the number of cases reported. We therefore need to be cautious about predicting future trends based on 2006 figures alone.
"At this stage, it is too early to tell whether these provisional results for 2006 signify a slowing in the overall trend of increase in the number of cases", he added.
Professor Peter Borriello, Director of Centre for Infections feels more efforts need to be directed towards those seriously affected with the disease.
"Worldwide, TB is the leading cause of death in terms of curable infectious diseases, but fortunately it remains very low in most parts of the UK", he said.
" We need to emphasize to everyone that TB is a preventable and treatable condition. The key to reducing levels of TB is early diagnosis and appropriate treatment of the infection. This is where we must put our effort. Work on improving TB vaccines is also critical", he opined.
Borriello believes that sharing information on the occurrence of tuberculosis, and the various initiatives that are underway to try and combat the disease, will help everyone providing TB services, to carry out their work more effectively.
Symptoms of TB include fever and night sweats, a persistent cough and blood in the phlegm or spit.