Tuberculosis Infection - what you need to know

What is Sleeping Tuberculosis?   

  • Tuberculosis (TB) is a serious but treatable disease –TB incidence in Reading has doubled from 20 per 100,000 populations in 1999 to 41.4 per 100,000 in 2013 and has continued to increase.
  •  Three-quarters of all cases occur in people born outside of the UK (see attached map)
  • TB bacteria can stay ‘asleep’ in the body for several years without causing any symptoms or being infectious to others – this is called latent TB or sleeping TB  
  • Many cases of TB are caused by  re-activation of latent TB – where the sleeping TB “wakes up” and starts to cause infection

People with sleeping TB infection do not feel sick and do not have any symptoms. They are infected with the TB bacteria, but do not have TB disease.  TB bacteria can sleep in your body for years.

The risk is that sleeping TB can become active and make you ill and infectious to other people.

 Who should be tested and treated for sleeping TB?

  • The risk of progression to active disease is considerably higher in infected individuals who belong to specific high risk populations (please see link: List of Countries with TB incidence)

You are at risk of sleeping TB if:

You were born or lived in a high risk country for more than 6 months.

Anyone who has arrived in the UK from one of these countries within the past 5 years can be tested.

HIV infection

Recent prolonged close contact with an infectious patient such as living in the same house

Initiation of an anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) treatment

Receiving dialysis

Receiving an organ or hematologic transplantation


Being in prison

Being a homeless person


Living in an overcrowded house

Being an illicit drug user and alcohol misuse

Other Long Term health conditions e.g. diabetes

Up to 1 in 4 people born outside of the UK have sleeping TB; 1 in 10 of these will go on to have active disease.

Although Sleeping TB testing is available to any adults up to 35 years who has arrived in the UK in the last 5 years from a country where TB is common, the team are keen to see all ages.

  • The service offers a range of tests for people who have arrived in the UK in the last five years and who were born or spent more than three months in a country with a high incidence of TB e.g. south-east Asia, sub-Saharan Africa
  • The type of test is dependent on age and other factors
  • All those with a positive result are offered treatment to stop them becoming unwell and passing on the infection to others

 Wasn’t I tested when I applied for a visa?

You may have had a chest X-Ray as part of your visa application; this looks for active TB infection in the lungs but cannot identify sleeping TB.

Where can I get screened?

The New Entrant Screening service are a small friendly team based in the Respiratory Medicine Department at The Royal Berkshire Hospital, who are used to caring for people of all nationalities.

You will need a simple blood test or skin test which is FREE from your local TB service.

If your test shows you have sleeping TB we will give you FREE treatment to reduce the risk of it becoming active.

You are at risk even if:

• Your chest x-ray was clear – sleeping TB does not show on x-rays

• You have had a BCG vaccination – the vaccination does not protect you for life

How can I get a blood test?

Reading, Newbury or Wokingham: Call 0118 322 6882 to book your test at our New Entrant Screening Clinic (Royal Berkshire Hospital, Craven Road, Reading RG1 5AN)

Protect yourself, your family and your friends - get tested NOW!

Tests are confidential, free and do not affect your right to remain in the UK.


This survey will run until 31 October 2017.  We want you to tell us what you know about TB to help us plan better intervention and prevention.

Please follow the link below to complete the survey:

Or download the flyer 'Tell us what you know' to share with your contacts and on social media.


Page last reviewed: 19/01/2023

Contact the Team

Family Information Service 0118 937 3777 OPTION 2 0118 937 3777 OPTION 2

SEND Local Offer 0118 937 3777 OPTION 2 0118 937 3777 OPTION 2

Adult & Carers Support 0118 937 3747 0118 937 3747
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