Tuberculosis (TB) and other mycobacterial diseases: diagnosis, screening, management and data

Tuberculosis (TB) symptoms, diagnosis, and surveillance.

Tuberculosis (TB) is an infection caused by a bacterium belonging to the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex, which includes:

  • M. tuberculosis
  • M. africanum
  • M. bovis
  • some rare bacteria such as M. microti and M pinnipedii

TB is a notifiable disease in the UK. Suspected and confirmed diseases must be notified within 3 working days.

TB usually affects the lungs but can also affect almost any other area of the body. Most transmissions occur from some people with pulmonary or laryngeal TB are infectious.

TB develops slowly and it usually takes several months for symptoms to appear. The most common symptoms include:

  • shortness of breath
  • cough
  • unexplained loss of weight
  • loss of appetite
  • fever
  • fatigue

Left undiagnosed, a patient with infectious TB can infect 10 to 15 other close individuals over a year.


  1. Tuberculosis screening

    • 23 July 2014
    • Detailed guide
  2. Tuberculosis (TB) screening for the UK: leaflet

    • 23 July 2014
    • Promotional material
  3. Tuberculosis: pre-entry screening in the UK

    • 23 July 2014
    • Guidance

Treatment, management and vaccination

Standard anti-TB treatment consists of a combination of 4 different antibiotics, usually taken daily for a minimum 6-month period. See National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines on treatment of TB.

The BCG vaccine is recommended for high risk groups such as healthcare workers and babies at increased risk of exposure to TB infection.

See the chapter about tuberculosis (TB) immunisation in Immunisation against infectious disease: the Green Book.

  1. Managing tuberculosis (TB) in prisons

    • 1 May 2013
    • Guidance
  2. TB, BCG and your baby leaflet

    • 8 August 2014
    • Promotional material
  3. Tuberculosis: the disease, its treatment and prevention

    • 14 October 2014
    • Promotional material
  4. Tuberculosis (TB) by country: rates per 100,000 people

    • 11 December 2014
    • Research and analysis


Public Health England runs enhanced tuberculosis surveillance (ETS) for real-time case reporting. ETS also has laboratory data on drug sensitivity, species and strain typing.

Strain typing guidance is available on the archived HPA site.

  1. Tuberculosis (TB) in the UK: annual report

    • 25 September 2014
    • Research and analysis
  2. Reports of cases of tuberculosis to the National Enhanced Tuberculosis Surveillance System: 2004 to 2013

    • 25 September 2014
    • Statistics
  3. UK tuberculosis (TB) surveillance data

    • 20 November 2014
    • Statistics
  4. Tuberculosis (TB): annual update

    • 24 March 2015
    • Research and analysis
  5. Tuberculosis (TB): annual notification and mortality data (1913 onwards)

    • 1 January 2013
    • Statistics
  6. Tuberculosis (TB): regional reports

    • 23 January 2015
    • Research and analysis


  1. Tuberculosis (TB): collaborative strategy for England

    • 19 January 2015
    • Policy paper

Homelessness services and prisons

For those who work with prisoners or people who use drugs or alcohol, there’s a range of leaflets to help you support individuals with TB.

Further resources are available from the National Knowledge Service - TB, on the national archives.

  1. Tuberculosis (TB) and homelessness

    • 1 November 2013
    • Guidance