The number of tuberculosis deaths in Europe is on the rise after declining for almost two decades, the health officials warned.
The Covid pandemic's disruption on treatment and diagnostic services has been cited as a reason for this surge.
In the World Health Organization's (WHO) European Region – which comprises of 53 countries – 27,300 people died from tuberculosis (TB) in 2021, compared with 27,000 deaths in 2020.
This was the first time in 20 years the downward trend was broken, the WHO Europe said in a TB surveillance report.
Russia and Ukraine were the two most affected countries, with around 4,900 and 3,600 deaths respectively.
Andrea Ammon, director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, said: “In 2021, the raging Covid-19 pandemic continued to heavily affect our Member States.
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"TB resources were diverted, and patients experienced difficulties in accessing clinical services, possibly resulting in delayed diagnosis and treatment of some TB cases.
"Therefore, we need to increase the number of people diagnosed and successfully treated."
The report finds that although there is a overall downward trend in the number of TB cases in Europe in recent years, the slow rate they are falling could derail the United Nation's goal target of ending tuberculosis as a global public health threat by 2030.
In July, Brits were urged to be on the lookout for signs of the deadly Victorian disease after an outbreak at a university in Wales.
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Three students at a university campus tested positive for the illness – eight months after coming into close contact with someone who died from the disease.
While in March, health chiefs warned anyone with a cough that's lingered for more than three weeks to seek help as experts predicted a spike in cases following various lockdowns.
It's a highly contagious disease that affects the skin, nose and throat and without treatment, can be fatal.
Illnesses such as scarlet fever, tuberculosis, measles and mumps have all risen dramatically since Covid began.
The 6 symptoms of TB to watch out for
TB is a potentially serious condition, but it can be cured if it’s treated with the right antibiotics.
- a persistent cough that lasts more than three weeks and usually brings up phlegm, which may be bloody
- breathlessness that gradually gets worse
- lack of appetite and weight loss
- a high temperature
- night sweats
- extreme tiredness or fatigue
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