Japan saw a nearly 10 percent rise in the number of new tuberculosis cases in 1999, the third straight year of increase, according to a government survey released Friday.

There were 48,264 newly diagnosed TB patients last year, up 4,248 from 1998, while the rate of incidence per 100,000 people was 38.1, up 3.3, the Health and Welfare Ministry survey said.

It said 2,935 people died from TB last year, up 140.

Compared with Australia, Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United States, Japan has the highest rate of incidence of the disease, followed by Germany with 12.7, officials at the ministry’s TB section said.

The lowest figure was 4.9 in Australia, they added.

The largest share of new cases constituted people in their 70s, accounting for 39.1 percent of the total, as many elderly people who contracted the disease earlier in life are diagnosed when they get older, the officials said.

In 1997, Japan saw its first rise in the number of new TB patients since 1959, up 243 from 1995. This was followed by an increase of 1,301 in 1998.

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