MLA alarmed over cases of TB

Robin Swann. Editorial image.
Robin Swann. Editorial image.

North Antrim MLA Robin Swann has called for urgent action to combat “the alarming rise of tuberculosis diagnosed in the constituency”.

He issued his challenge to the Health Minister Jim Wells last week following a written question to him seeking detail on TB cases diagnosed in North Antrim in each of the last four years.

Mr Swann added that in a recent report, the Public Health Agency revealed 87 reported cases of TB last year - up from 62 in 2011.

According to the report only some people with TB in the lungs are infectious to others and even then, close and prolonged contact is needed to place other people at risk of infection.

The UUP MLA said it had been confirmed to him by the Health Minister that of the 87 cases in 2014, five had been diagnosed in North Antrim.

Mr Swann said: “The information given to me by the Minister indicated that in 2011, there were less than five cases in North Antrim; six in 2012; less than five in 2013, and five in 2014.

“It is abundantly clear that we can no longer dismiss TB as an illness of yesteryear. In spite of the cuts which the Minister will be forced to make in his budget, he needs to give a cast iron guarantee that TB will not make an unwelcome return to North Antrim so that it becomes a new epidemic,” said Assemblyman Swann.