Investigating the epidemiology of tuberculosis and the cost effectiveness of novel diagnostic screening pathways in migrants to the UK

Tuberculosis is an infectious disease that has a wide range of complications and symptoms. The number of cases detected each year in the UK is increasing despite our best efforts to control it. Tuberculosis is therefore a significant public health problem requiring further research to establish the best ways to tackle it.

In 2009 73% of cases were in individuals born outside the UK, a figure that continues to rise despite a screening programme in new migrants. This study aims to establish rates of disease in migrants on entry to the country; the subsequent levels of newly occurring disease; and the proportion of tuberculosis acquired in the UK or abroad. Using all of these data, the project will create a mathematical model to compare the effectiveness of different screening options, including newly available diagnostic tests, to establish the most cost effective combination of screening investigations.

Effective screening in migrants has the potential to reverse the increasing number of tuberculosis cases in individuals not born in the UK and subsequently in the general population. This will benefit wider society and migrants, who represent a particularly vulnerable group with a high burden of disease.

The research fellow is Rob Aldridge. Co-investigator is Andrew Hayward.

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