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Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis, also known as 'the tubercle bacillus'. TB commonly affects the lungs, but can reach any part of the body. It is usually spread by the coughs or sneezes of an infected person, but is not highly contagious. Prolonged close contact with a person with TB--for example, living in the same household--is usually necessary for infection to be passed on. It may take many years before someone infected with TB develops the full disease. TB worldwide is a massive problem. In England cases fell progressively until the mid-1980s but started to rise again in the early 1990s. Cases have increased by 25% in the last 10 years. Around 6,500 cases are now reported each year. TB is curable with a course of special antibiotics taken for at least 6 months. The most important part of controlling TB is identifying and treating those who already have the disease, to shorten their infection and to stop it being passed on to others.

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Symptom and prevention information for TB. The Immunisation website is published by the Department of Health and for the NHS.

Health Protection Agency: Tuberculosis

Health Protection Agency: Tuberculosis

General information, advice and updates on TB from the Health Protection Agency (HPA).

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