Related to: Sexual Health, Vaccine Preventable Infections, Respiratory Infections, Healthcare Associated Infections. Ill Health and Disability, [[Children and Young People]]

Key Facts

  • Although there was a peak in infectious diseases between 2004 and 2008, rates are currently in line with national and regional levels.
  • In 2011 there were just over 2,200 laboratory confirmed infectious diseases, but there will have been many more unconfirmed.
  • 27 confirmed cases of H1N1 in B&NES as of July 2009


Infectious or communicable diseases are illnesses caused by the infection by pathogenic biological agents (germs).  Humans are vulnerable to thousands of different infectious diseases caused by micro-organisms including bacteria, viruses, fungi or other organisms. They can be passed from person to person, animal to human or can be picked up from environmental contamination. Strategies to prevent and control infectious diseases include immunisation, suitable housing and sanitation, hygiene, active case finding and contact tracing. Notifiable diseasesare statutorily required to be reported (to protect the wider population). They include measles and tuberculosis. For a full list see the Health Protection Agency web site1.

Please see the following pages for information on specific types of infectious disease

Respiratory Infections (Including Influenza (Flu), pneumonia and tuberculosis).

Healthcare Associated Infections (including MRSA, Cdiff and GRE bacteriama).

Sexually Transmitted Infections (Including acute and chronic STI’s inc HIV)

Vaccine Preventable Infections (Including MMR and Pertisussis – whooping cough)

What does the data say?

  • Rates of infectious diseases in B&NES are lower than national rates, however, infections continue to be a significant cause of illness and death. In 2011 there were 2,205 laboratory confirmed cases of infectious diseases in B&NES 2, this represents the tip of the iceberg with thousands more unconfirmed infectious diseases contributing to sickness, disability and economic loss each year.
  • Nationally hospitals admitted 201,800 cases of infectious and parasitic disease last year – a 10% increase on the previous year (183,300) and the biggest percentage rise of any disease group. A substantial increase in admissions for children under 15 suffering from viral infections was a major factor in the rise 3
  • 151 Years of life lost due to mortality from infectious and parasitic disease (2008-10)
  • Directly standardised rate 3 per 10,000 under 75 population, nationally 7 per 10,000, regionally 5.6 per 10,000 4
  • Trends in Infectious Diseases Graph

Figure 1: Directly age standardised rate of mortality from infectious diseases in B&NES and comparator areas since 1993.

Pandemic Infections

The most significant pandemic impacting on Bath and North East Somerset in recent years has been the H1N1 pandemic which emerged in 2009. Data for cases of H1N1 in Bath and North East Somerset relate to the containment phase when there laboratory testing was being conducted and, therefore, does not provide a complete picture of the total number of cases in the local authority area. The number of confirmed cases in Bath and North East Somerset as of 23 July 2009 was 27. There were two school outbreaks Fosse Way Special School and Prior Park College 5

What does the community say?

The Child Health-Related Behaviour Survey 6 

The Health-Related Behaviour Survey developed by the Schools Health Education Unit (SHEU) is designed for young people of primary and secondary school age. The surveys have been developed by health and education professionals, and cover a wide range of topics. Data arising from the survey can be used to help inform planning and policy decisions as well being used in the classroom as the stimulus for discussion with young people. These surveys are carried out every two years.


When considering the results of the Child Health-Related Behaviour Survey in B&NES it is worth bearing in mind the level of participation in the survey, and thus how representative the responses are likely to be of children in B&NES as a whole. For more information see the Child Health-Related Behaviour Survey section in [[Children and Young People]]


Hygiene plays an important role preventing the spread of infectious diseases and so information on the extent of personal hygiene can be useful in helping to determine vulnerable groups.

In the 2013 Child Health-Related Behaviour Survey, when primary school children in B&NES in year 4 and 6 were asked about their hand washing habits:

  • 60% of pupils responded that they washed their hands before lunch on the day before the survey, while 13% said they are ‘not sure’ if they did.
  • 81% of pupils responded that they wash their hands ‘whenever possible’ after visiting the toilet, while 2% said they ‘never or hardly ever’ do and 17% do so only ‘sometimes’.