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Tuberculosis - TB patient leaflet and action plan


To download the Word version of the patient leaflet, click here
To download the Word version of the action plan, click here

Patient leaflet:

Are you T.B. aware?

There are about 8 million new cases of TB in the world each year. Although the number of TB cases in the UK is low, it is on the rise, especially in the London area.

TB (tuberculosis) is caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs, although other parts of the body, particularly the lymph glands, can be affected. These days TB is curable, but if it is not treated it can become very serious.

How do you catch TB?
Like the common cold, TB bacteria are carried in droplets in the air. You can catch it from someone who has TB of the lungs when that person coughs or sneezes.

It is quite difficult to catch, but if your body is weakened by poor diet and living conditions, alcohol or drug use, HIV or other illness you will be at more risk of developing TB if you come into contact with the bacteria.

What are the Symptoms?
Symptoms often develop slowly after infection. Tiredness, fever, night sweats, weight loss and a persistent cough are common. There may be chest pain and blood stained sputum (spit). If the lymph glands are affected, you may feel one or more lumps, often in the neck area or the armpit.

What action to take?
If you have any of these symptoms for more than 3 weeks, you should see your doctor (GP). If you don't have a GP but are feeling very ill with a cough, fever and weight loss, go to your hospital Accident and Emergency (Casualty) Department.

How will they know if it's TB?
A painless chest x-ray will show whether or not you have TB of the lung. A specimen of sputum (spit) will also show the bacteria under a microscope and confirm that it is TB.

What is the treatment?
Treatment for TB is with antibiotics. Tablets must be taken regularly for around 6 months. TB is completely curable if treatment is carefully followed, but drug-resistant TB is on the rise as a result of people not taking the tablets regularly, or stopping them before the end of treatment.

What about infecting others?
Although the tablets must be taken for a long time to clear the disease, a person with TB of the lung is no longer infectious to others after 2 weeks of treatment. You cannot be a "carrier" of TB, the disease must be active in your lungs before you can infect others. Family and close contacts of a person with TB should be checked for infection ("screening"). This is done by a simple skin test. Those who have had a BCG vaccination are at less risk of infection.

Years ago TB was very common in the UK and many people died from it. Better living conditions and the BCG vaccination greatly reduced the number of cases and many believed it had "gone away". World travel, poverty and HIV mean that TB is making a comeback.

Be aware of the signs and symptoms and get advice from a doctor or pharmacist if you are concerned.

Take care - look after yourself!

More info on http://www.who.ont/gtb and

Produced by East Surrey Community Pharmacy Needle Exchange Scheme
Tel: 01372 227382



Action plan:


World TB day is on 24 March.
This year's campaign "Every Breath Counts - Stop TB Now!"



Target date

Carry out literature search on the epidemiology, aetiology, prevalence, prevention and treatment of global, UK and local TB disease.


Investigate the evidence base for prevention modalities with special reference to injecting drug users and those with immune compromised conditions.


Put together and distribute a TB resource pack for the needle exchange pharmacists.


Include TB as a key topic at the One-Day seminar for needle exchange pharmacists (min. 2 hours direct training).


Design and produce a TB awareness and information leaflet aimed at injecting drug users and distribute in all needle exchange packs for an initial period of 2 months.


Make links with specialist treatment practitioners to aid treatment and referral of injecting drug users.

March and On-going

Raise awareness with Surrey CDCs, East Surrey and EEMS PCT Directors of Public Health/Training departments of the need to re-educate and refresh generic clinicians on TB prevention, recognition and management.


With PCAT, develop a TB information pack for GPs. Distribute to GPs undertaking the shared care of drug users.



Work with PCT community pharmacy facilitators and the PCA to distribute TB information sheets to all community pharmacists.


Publish articles in the scheme Pnewsletter.

Suggest TB as a topic in Care Spectrum magazine and in SMMGP Network newsletter.

Winter/summer editions Spring/summer

Liase with local specialist drug and alcohol services, share the resources and information and training links.

March and on-going

Review the mini-campaign and ensure TB is included as an on-going topic in all training and resource updates for pharmacists and for clients.

Autumn and on-going




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