IT IS often thought of as a disease of the past or a third world problem.
But Brian Warwick knows only too well how common tuberculosis still is in the UK.
The 75-year-old got the shock of his life when he was diagnosed with TB last year – the very disease that his father died from in 1940.
It’s thought he was infected when he was 13 years old when his father was ill, and the disease laid dormant in his body for more than 60 years.
Today, on World TB Day, Mr Warwick wants to help raise awareness of the bacterial infection, which is on the rise.
Mr Warwick, of Foster Road, Portsmouth, said: ‘It was such a shock to be told I had TB.
‘I didn’t know it could stay in you for such a long time without affecting you. I was quite frightened too because my father died from it.
‘The only symptom I had was pain in my hip, where I’d had an operation when I was 17, and then some weight loss and night sweats. I didn’t have a cough like my father did though.’
‘I want to make people aware it’s still around, even I thought it was a thing of the past.’
Mr Warwick, who has since recovered, is one of more than 9,000 people to have been diagnosed with TB in the UK last year.
In Portsmouth alone there are about 50 cases of the disease every year – a 14 per cent increase since 2005.
The disease usually affects the lungs but can affect other parts of the body.
Sypmtoms include feeling constantly tired or ill, a fever and heavy night sweats, loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss. It is curable with a six-month course of antibiotics.
Staff at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, will be raising awareness of TB today and the importance of getting symptoms checked out promptly.
They will be identifying people who would benefit from having the BCG vaccine, which is no longer given as part of school vaccinations, but instead given to babies and children who may be at risk and adults who may have increased risk because of their job or because of travel.
But no vaccination can provide 100 per cent immunity.