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The World Health Organization’s Global tuberculosis report 2017 acknowledges that TB is the ninth leading cause of death worldwide and the leading cause from a single infectious agent, ranking above HIV/AIDS. 

In 2016, 6.3 million new cases of TB were reported (up from 6.1 million in 2015) and an estimated 10.4 million people developed the disease.

Nurses in all areas of health care are in an ideal position to control the spread of TB by identifying new cases. This can be done by recognising signs, symptoms and risk factors for TB. By supporting patients to complete their treatment and preventing new cases, transmission rates and cases of TB can be reduced.

Early diagnosis can significantly improve patient outcomes, and reduce infection rates.

  • Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by bacteria belonging to the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex. 
  • TB is a notifiable disease in the UK, please see further Public Health England (PHE) guidance on notifiable diseases
  • Pulmonary TB disease is infectious, following prolonged close contact with an infectious case.
  • TB is curable with a combination of specific antibiotics, treated for at least six months.

TB rates in the UK have continued to rise, prompting Public Health England to identify TB as a key priority. Public Health England has worked closely with NHS England to develop a collaborative Tuberculosis (TB) strategy for England which brings together best practice in clinical care and social support to help strengthen the control of TB.

Public Health England has published Tuberculosis in England 2018 report, (presenting data to the end of 2017). This annual TB report describes the epidemiology of TB in England since the launch of the collaborative strategy. The report is also supported by the following documents:

Further resources

Tuberculosis Nurse Competency Framework for TB Prevention, Care and Control

The Tuberculosis Nurse Competency Framework for TB Prevention, Care and Control Has been developed by Public Health England (PHE) and the NHS in partnership with the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Public Health Forum. It provides a clear pathway of skills and knowledge development and how nurses and midwives can acquire and advance these. It is particularly relevant to nurses and midwives working in specialist TB areas but is also useful for those working in other areas and involved in highlighting the risks of TB and in making every contact count. 

View the framework: Tuberculosis Nurse Competency Framework for TB Prevention, Care and Control

The following links provide further information on TB:


Page last updated - 15/03/2019