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Number of Northern Ireland tuberculosis cases fell by 14 last year

By Adrian Rutherford

Cases of tuberculosis (TB) have dropped in Northern Ireland, official figures show.

A total of 71 cases were reported in 2017, compared with 85 confirmed ones in 2016.

In 2015 there were 62 confirmed cases and 95 in 2014.

The figures were released by the Public Health Agency (PHA) ahead of World TB Day, today.

TB is a bacterial infection spread through inhaling tiny droplets from the coughs or sneezes of an infected person.

It mainly affects the lungs, but it can impact on other parts of the body, including the stomach, glands, bones and nervous system.

Although a serious condition, it can be cured if treated with the right antibiotics.

Dr Michael Devine, consultant in health protection at the PHA, said: "Despite the fall in cases in 2017, TB remains an important global and local public health issue, so the PHA is reminding everyone of the importance of preventing transmission of TB and how to recognise its symptoms early.

"People may think of TB as a disease of the past, but there are more than 10 million new cases of TB globally each year with more than one million deaths, mostly in developing countries.

"With effective treatment, TB can be a curable condition, and World TB Day is an opportunity to raise public awareness to reduce transmission of TB by encouraging early diagnosis and treatment."

Symptoms of TB include fever and night sweats, a persistent cough and unexplained weight loss.

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