Labour spokesman on health has tuberculosis

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The Independent Online
A SHADOW health minister, Ian McCartney, has contracted tuberculosis and has had to cancel engagements while he undergoes intensive drug therapy.

Mr McCartney, 42, MP for Makerfield, near Wigan, has been ill for several months. He said yesterday that doctors were confident the strain of TB diagnosed was susceptible to a strict drug regime and had told him the treatment plan would last until next May.

'They are confident of a complete recovery but have advised me that if the current treatment does not prove as successful as anticipated, a period of hospitalisation may be necessary to assist my recovery.'

Mr McCartney, married with one son and two daughters, entered the Commons in 1987. There is no intention that he will have to relinquish his frontbench post as a Labour spokesman.

Ironically, the increasing incidence of TB is one of the issues Mr McCartney and the Labour health team have been pursuing. According to his office, official statistics show a rise in reported cases in England and Wales from 5,086 in 1987 to 5,861 last year.

TB is 'unusual' but by no means rare in people who do not fall into the risk categories for infection, a leading lung specialist said yesterday. Dr John Moore- Gillon of St Bartholomew's hospital, London, said Mr McCartney may have been exposed to TB recently or 'as far back as childhood'. In some people the microbe, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, goes into a dormant state in the lungs or other organs.

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