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Rise of TB incidence due to ageing population, more foreigners

22 Dec 2014

Associate Professor Hsu Li Yang and Dr Alex Cook from the NUS research team

The incidence of tuberculosis (TB) had been steadily decreasing since 1988; however since 2008, the number of cases has been increasing to around 39 cases per 1000. 

A study led by researchers from the National University of Singapore has found that an ageing population and a growing non-resident population has contributed to the rise of TB incidence in Singapore. Looking at cases from the Singapore Tuberculosis Elimination Programme (STEP), researchers found that a higher incidence of infectious respiratory disease among the elderly population, which had almost doubled from 1995 to 2011. Furthermore, the incidence of TB among the growing non-resident population increased from 25.5% in 1995 to 47.7% in 2011. 

"As you grow older, you also have conditions that weaken your immune system, and it's the immune system that controls the tuberculosis bacteria," explains Associate Professor Hsu Li Yang from the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, who led the study. 

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