Britain may have seen the highest levels of tuberculosis in more than three decades.

The UK saw 9,040 cases of TB last year, higher than the 8621 people infected in 2008, according to the Health Protection Agency. A total of 8,621 people were infected in 2008.

"We are concerned to see cases of TB at their highest levels since the 1970s," said Dr Ibrahim Abubakar, head of TB surveillance at the HPA. "TB is a preventable and treatable condition but, if left untreated, can be life threatening”.

"The key to reducing levels of TB is early diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Efforts to improve early diagnosis and control the spread of infection must remain a priority … especially in parts of the country with the highest rates of TB," he said.London saw the highest number of cases 3,440 followed by West Midlands (1,018).

Interestingly, there is growing concern of reported cases of TB that is drug resistant. It takes more than six months to TB with normal antibiotics. Multi-drug resistant TB can require treatment of nearly 18 months.

"It's been rising for over 20 years now and no sign that it is stopping. It is being addressed as a narrow clinical issue and the public health aspects are not being tackled," said Mike Mandelbaum, chief executive of TB Alert.