Setting: England and Wales, 2001-2003.
Objectives: To describe demographic and clinical characteristics of tuberculosis (TB) in non-UK-born persons and compare with UK-born cases to inform public health action and health service provision.
Design: Analysis of surveillance data.
Results: Among the 67% of cases who were non-UK-born, TB incidence was 88/100000 compared to 4/100000 among the UK-born. UK-born minority ethnic groups were also at increased risk of TB. Although the highest TB incidence occurred in recent entrants to the UK, nearly half the cases had been resident for >or=5 years. The majority of non-UK-born cases originated from South Asia (48%) and sub-Saharan Africa (35%). The demographic characteristics of non-UK-born and UK-born cases differed. In addition, non-UK-born cases were less likely to have pulmonary TB than the UK-born (52% vs. 73%, chi(2) P<0.001), but were more likely to have isoniazid-resistant disease (8% vs. 6%, chi(2) P=0.002), depending on region of birth.
Conclusions: During 2001-2003, most TB cases were non-UK-born. TB services need to take the characteristics of TB in this group into account. Furthermore, awareness of the risk of disease is required among the non-UK-born for many years after arrival into the UK, and among UK-born minority ethnic groups.