SINGAPORE: The number of new cases of active tuberculosis (TB) in Singapore fell to 1,536 last year from 1,617 in 2016, according to a press release by the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Friday (Mar 23).
Ahead of World TB Day on Saturday, the ministry also reported a smaller incidence rate of 38.7 cases per 100,000 population in 2017, compared with 41.2 per 100,000 the previous year.
Men and those aged 50 years old and above continued to make up a significant proportion of the new cases at 68.2 per cent and 66.7 per cent, respectively.
Most of the cases (78.3 per cent) among Singapore residents were Singapore-born.
There were also 124 relapsed cases and six new cases of multi-drug resistant TB.
TB is an air-borne disease transmitted through close and prolonged exposure to an infectious individual suffering from untreated and active pulmonary TB. However, not all individuals who are exposed will become infected.
Symptoms of TB include unexplained prolonged cough for three weeks or more, low-grade fever, night sweats, fatigue, chest pain and coughing up blood.
"TB is endemic in Singapore and latent TB infection is not uncommon in our population, with rates of up to 30 per cent in the older age groups, as TB had been prevalent in Singapore until the 1970s," MOH said in the statement.
In 2016, there were more than 10 million cases of active TB globally, with 1.8 million deaths.
MOH, however, also stressed that TB is curable and the spread of TB is preventable.
There is "no need for workplaces or places where a recently diagnosed active TB case has visited to be closed," MOH said.
"Close contacts found to have latent TB infection are not infectious and can continue their activities as usual," they added.