Research Article

National survey of tuberculosis notifications in England and Wales 1978--9. Report from the Medical Research Council Tuberculosis and Chest Diseases Unit.

Br Med J 1980; 281 doi: (Published 04 October 1980) Cite this as: Br Med J 1980;281:895


A survey of all tuberculosis notifications in England and Wales for a six-month period showed that 70% of 3732 newly notified, previously untreated patients had respiratory disease only, 23% had non-respiratory disease only, and 7% had both. Fifty-seven per cent of patients were of white and 35% were of Indian subcontinent (Indian, Pakistani, or Bangladeshi) ethnic origin, the latter group contributing over half the cases of non-respiratory disease. The estimated overall annual notification rate per 100 000 population for 1978--9 was 16.4 for England and 13.5 for Wales. The rates differed considerably between the different ethnic groups in England, the highest rates occurring in the Indian and in the Pakistani and Bangladeshi groups and the lowest in the white group; the differences in the non-respiratory rates were the more striking. Nearly a quarter of patients with respiratory disease had large pulmonary lesions, the proportion being higher for the white group than for the Indian subcontinent group. Over half the patients had positive cultures for tubercle bacilli and over a third had positive smears; both proportions were higher for the white group. This survey has identified many of the problems which tuberculosis presents in England and Wales today. These include the substantial number of patients with sputum-positive disease, the considerable variation in the rates in the different ethnic groups, and the not uncommon occurrence of childhood tuberculosis.