The theme of this year’s World TB Day, 24 March, was ‘Yes! We can end TB!’.

An important message as tuberculosis (TB) is a preventable and treatable disease. While Scotland remains a low incidence country for TB, provisional data show that cases of TB increased by approximately 40% in 2023 compared to 2022. The provisional data indicates the highest reported incidence of TB in Scotland since 2017, with cases recorded throughout the country and across a variety of age groups.

Public Health Scotland (PHS) is currently working with partners to better understand who is affected, what may have changed and what contributing factors led to the increase in cases in Scotland during 2023. PHS is also working to establish actions required to tackle the increase, with the aim of achieving TB elimination in Scotland.

TB is a bacterial infection spread through inhaling tiny droplets from the coughs or sneezes of an infected person. It usually only spreads after prolonged exposure to someone with the illness. For example, it often spreads within a family who live in the same house.
TB is a serious condition but can be cured in most cases with proper treatment.

Typical symptoms of TB include:

• a persistent cough that lasts more than three weeks and usually brings up phlegm, which may be bloody
• weight loss
• night sweats
• high temperature (fever)
• tiredness and fatigue
• loss of appetite
• new swellings that haven’t gone away after a few weeks

You should see a GP if you have a cough that lasts more than three weeks or if you cough up blood.

A BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guérin) vaccine is offered to babies who are more likely to come into contact with someone with TB. This is because they either lived in an area with high rates of TB, or their parents or grandparents came from a country with high rates of TB.

More information on TB can be found on NHS Inform.

More information on the BCG vaccine is available on NHS Inform.

Last updated: 26 March 2024