What is whooping cough and how can I prevent my children catching it?
Public health matters
by Blog Editor
16h ago
Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a highly contagious bacterial infection that mainly affects the lungs and airways. It can affect people of all ages and while it can be a very unpleasant illness for older vaccinated adolescents and adults, young babies who are too young to be fully protected through vaccination are at increased risk of serious complications or, rarely, death. Whooping cough is sometimes known as the 100-day cough because of how long it took to recover from it. What are the symptoms? The first symptoms of whooping cough are similar to a common cold, with a runny nos ..read more
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What is Lyme disease and why do we need to be tick-aware?
Public health matters
by Blog Editor
3w ago
Ticks in England can carry infections, including Lyme disease and — very rarely — tick-borne encephalitis (TBE). Ticks can be active all year round, but they are most active in the months April to July, and sometimes later in the autumn. Activity continues over the winter months but at a significantly reduced level. So, we are reminding people to be ‘tick aware’ as they enjoy the great outdoors at any time of the year. To help you stay safe, we've compiled a guide to protecting yourself from tick-borne infections. In this blog post, you'll learn how to avoid tick bites, how to recognise the s ..read more
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Inside Britain’s Deadly Fungus Collection
Public health matters
by Blog Editor
1M ago
Housed near Bristol, UKHSA’s National Collection of Pathogenic Fungi (NCPF) is home to more than 4,500 isolates of potentially deadly fungi, gathered over the last century. The collection serves as a remarkable illustration of how scientific endeavours from the World War II era continue to hold significance in the present day. Moreover, it offers a glimpse into the future of health protection, highlighting the importance of preserving and studying these specimens. In this blog post, we’ll cover the history of the NCPF: why it was set up, what it houses and how it continues to play an importan ..read more
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STIs through the centuries
Public health matters
by Blog Editor
1M ago
In England, data produced by the UKHSA shows that year after year new diagnoses of sexually transmitted infections STIs remain high and, between 2021 and 2022, diagnoses of gonorrhoea and infectious syphilis increased by 50% and 15% respectively. In this blog post we will explore the rising tide of STIs across the eons, how ancient Greeks feared the killer “scorpions and serpents” in semen, and how goat's milk was thought to be a curative for sexual ailments. The ancient world The Greek and Roman Period (5th century BCE - 4th century CE): Over 2,400 years ago the ancient Greeks and Romans wer ..read more
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How bacteria-munching viruses could offer an alternative to antibiotics
Public health matters
by Blog Editor
1M ago
They look like something out of nightmare, but these so-called ‘spider viruses’ occur naturally, and could be a powerful new weapon in tackling the growing threat of antibiotic resistance. Bacteriophages, or phages for short, have a remarkable and currently untapped potential for viral therapies. Their name comes from the Greek for to eat - ‘phagein’ - suggesting that phages swallow up bacteria. It’s a great image, although the reality is perhaps even more remarkable: phages inject bacteria with genetic material that ultimately destroys them. At the end of last week, the government signalled ..read more
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What are mRNA vaccines and how do they work?
Public health matters
by Blog Editor
1M ago
The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the urgent need for swift and safe vaccine development during public health emergencies. As detailed in the 100 Days Mission report, proactive vaccine research and development during non-crisis periods is important to help ensure we can quickly mobilise vaccines when new pathogens emerge. Our Vaccine Development and Evaluation Centre (VDEC) at Porton Down is at the forefront of the UK’s effort in collaborating with global partners to develop life-saving vaccines, including vaccines for use outside of pandemics. mRNA technology is an exciting technolo ..read more
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Can you get hay fever in February or is the pollen count too low?
Public health matters
by Bernd Eggen
1M ago
Hay fever is already common during the spring and summer months, but our changing climate could see some symptoms starting earlier in the year for allergy sufferers across the UK. Recent studies suggest that some types of pollen and other allergens could be released earlier in the year and for longer durations as temperatures rise. For some types of pollen, this may mean levels high enough to trigger hay fever as early in the year as January or February. What is pollen? Pollen grains are tiny particles produced by flowering plants for reproductive purposes; some plants transfer pollen to othe ..read more
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How pathogen genomics could help us detect new health threats and improve vaccines
Public health matters
by Blog Editor
2M ago
Pathogen genomics is an important tool in our mission to prepare for and respond to infectious disease threats. Our new 5-year Pathogen Genomics Strategy will establish a unified programme to enhance and expand our excellence in this field. Using pathogen genomics, we will increase our understanding of infectious disease risks, and enable effective evaluation of interventions to mitigate them. In this blog post, we will explore the role of pathogen genomics in UK biosecurity and how we are developing our genomic systems to better protect public health in the UK. What is pathogen genomics? Pat ..read more
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Should we be worried about the new COVID-19 variant?
Public health matters
by Blog Editor
3M ago
With the emergence at the end of last year of COVID-19 variant JN.1, there are questions about how it compares to the many other variants that have been identified. JN.1 descends from variant BA.2.86 and has an additional mutation in the spike protein. It has recently become the most widely circulating variant in the US as well as in France. As of January 2024, approximately 60% of English cases are caused by JN.1. UKHSA is continuing to monitor data relating to variants both in the UK and internationally, including close monitoring of the JN.1 variant, and assessment of severity and vaccine ..read more
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A parent’s guide to keeping kids healthy this school term
Public health matters
by Blog Editor
3M ago
With winter now in full swing, the New Year is a prime opportunity for parents to familiarise themselves with some of the common illnesses that could disrupt children's studies or even cause more serious illness in coming weeks. This blog post covers some of the seasonal illnesses that tend to peak during winter, as well as steps you can take now and throughout the coming term to help protect your family. We’ll explore available vaccinations, how to recognise symptoms of common illnesses, and how to make informed decisions on whether a sick student is well enough to attend school or college ..read more
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