Thursday 30 March 2017

Six people a week diagnosed with TB

'While the incidence of TB in Ireland has been in continuous decline over the past 25 years, latest figures reveal 311 people contracted the illness last year' Stock photo: PA
'While the incidence of TB in Ireland has been in continuous decline over the past 25 years, latest figures reveal 311 people contracted the illness last year' Stock photo: PA
Mark O'Regan

Mark O'Regan

Six people every week are still being diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB) in Ireland - and some die from complications arising from the disease.

TB caused heartbreak for thousands of Irish families up until the 1950s when a new strain of drugs and antibiotics became available.

For many decades, it also carried a serious social stigma, causing even further trauma for sufferers and their next of kin.

While the incidence of TB in Ireland has been in continuous decline over the past 25 years, latest figures reveal 311 people contracted the illness last year.

Ten patients subsequently died, but in only two cases was tuberculosis recorded as the official cause of death.

Latest figures obtained by the Sunday Independent from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), reveal the majority of patients - 153 sufferers - were born in Ireland.

A further 130 people were immigrants, while the country of birth for the remaining 28 cases has not yet been reported to HPSC.

This compares with 328 cases in 2014, and 384 diagnoses recorded in 2013.

According to research from the Irish Red Cross, in 1904, there were in the region of 25,000 deaths from the disease in Ireland, with 12,000 of these young adults.

It continued to plague the health of the nation until the 1950s, when the health minister at the time, Dr Noel Browne, spearheaded the roll-out of a much-lauded and controversial universal vaccination programme.

Sunday Independent

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