Infectious disease affects all of the Scottish population at some point in their life, from childhood vaccinations to food poisoning. It is estimated that up to 4,000 Scots die every year from infections (between 5 and 6% of all deaths). In the year ending March 2002, a similar percentage of the 1.2 million hospital discharges in Scotland was due to infections, but in children under 5 years this figure was twice as high (12.2% ). New infectious agents bring new risks to health, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease (vCJD) and infections related to medical devices.
Health Protection Scotland (HPS) is the national centre providing support and advice to all those who seek to protect the public from being exposed to hazards which damage their health, and to limit any impact on health when such exposures cannot be avoided. HPS considers infectious disease under various subject areas, including:
- Blood-borne viruses, eg AIDS, HIV, hepatitis.
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), eg chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhoea, genital herpes.
- Gastrointestinal infections and zoonoses (diseases spread through contact with animals), eg salmonella, E. coli, campylobacter, cryptosporidium.
- Immunisation and vaccine-preventable diseases, eg MMR (measles, mumps and rubella vaccine), mumps, chickenpox.
- Respiratory infections, eg influenza, tuberculosis, meningitis, SARS.
- Healthcare associated infections (HAIs) and infection control, eg anti-microbial resistance, surveillance of healthcare-associated infections, meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Clostridium difficile infection (CDI), infection prevention and control, decontamination.
- Environmental health, eg food, water, biological and chemical agents.
- Travel health, eg malaria, travel vaccinations. (For additional information, see also the TRAVAX website and Fit for Travelwebsite.)
Information on the above areas can be obtained from the Infectious disease, HAI, Environmental health and Travel health sections of the HPS website. In addition, the Sexual health and Immunisation sections of the ScotPHO website also provide information on sexually transmitted infections and immunisation programmes respectively.