This POSTnote looks at recent UK trends in infectious disease, with a focus on those infections for which vaccines are not yet available, and where the development of antimicrobial resistance is a serious concern.Jump to full report >>
Vaccination, antimicrobial drugs and improved hygiene mean that infectious disease has been overtaken by non-communicable disease (cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes) as the main cause of death globally and in the UK. However infections are still a significant health and economic burden to the UK.
This POSTnote describes recent trends in infections of particular concern in the UK. It outlines the trends that largely result from the capacity of infectious pathogens (disease causing agents) to develop resistance to existing drugs, the emergence of new infections and the re-emergence of infections linked to health inequalities or other factors. Infections are caused by viruses, bacteria, fungi, protozoa, parasites or prions. The epidemiology (causes, patterns and effects) of infectious disease are determined by the interplay of numerous factors: the individual (sex, age, health status, immunity and behaviour), the pathogen (its pathogenicity and ability to mutate) and the environment (climate, air quality and socio-economic factors such as income, quality of nutrition and housing).
Overview of Key Points
POST is grateful to Public Health England and the Department of Health for supplying the data used in this paper and for reviewing the content.
Author: Sarah Bunn
The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology produces independent, balanced and accessible briefings on public policy issues related to science and technology.