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TB is city's third most infectious disease

TUBERCULOSIS was the city's third leading infectious disease last year, after syphilis and gonorrhea. Of the 7,164 cases reported in 2008, 2,748 were migrant workers, the Shanghai Health Bureau said yesterday.

Today is World Tuberculosis Day and in China the focus this year is on educating migrant workers.

Last year's total was lower than the 7,515 patients in 2007 and 7,224 in 2006, but the percentage of migrant patients remains high in Shanghai.

TB is an airborne infectious disease that is preventable and curable if treated early. People can pass it on when they cough. There were 1.16 million cases of TB on China's mainland last year.

In the early 1950s TB in Shanghai was epidemic but efforts since then have reduced it to the current lowest level in the country. Controlling and preventing the disease still presents challenges, however, the bureau said.

One was the high percentage of migrant workers infected, with most young or middle-aged. For those with local residency the highest proportion of sufferers were over 65.

Also, drug-resistant TB and HIV-associated TB was presenting challenges for the health authorities.

The city began to offer free treatment and checkups in 2007.

By the end of last year, 13,896 TB patients with local residency and 7,260 migrant workers had received free medication, totaling 14.41 million yuan (US$2.11 million).

Last year the city's neighborhood health centers and designated hospitals started offering free TB tests in a bid to detect problems early.


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