Tuberculosis is staging a comeback in London, where some neighborhoods suffer infection rates found in African countries in which the disease is endemic.
The number of cases surged 50 percent in the 10 years to 2009, according to a National Health Service agency. One sneeze can release up to 40,000 droplets and each one can potentially cause infection. An untreated patient can infect up to 15 others a year, the World Health Organization estimates. The condition, which can remain dormant in the body for decades but spread through the air and require extended courses of antibiotics once it has been roused, is difficult to diagnose, treat and contain.
Brian McCloskey, the Health Protection Agency's regional director for London, said "TB is one of the biggest public health problems we have."