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Advice about emergencies concerning the outbreak of infectious diseases

Infectious diseases are caused by living organisms, such as bacteria, viruses, parasites or fungi; infections can be spread, directly or indirectly, from person to person. Examples include Ebola, hepatitis A, B and C, influenza, malaria, measles, SARS and tuberculosis (TB). 

Did you know...

Approximately 2 billion people are infected with the hepatitis B virus, making it the most infectious disease in the world today. 

Many infections are preventable through vaccination - the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that vaccinations prevent 2 to 3 million deaths each year.

Infection transmission

You can get an infection in a number of different ways:

  • Direct contact - when you come into direct contact with another person who has the infection.
  • Indirect contact - when an infectious disease is in the environment (examples include when someone sneezes or coughs).
  • Animal or insect bite.
  • Contaminated water

Infectious disease - General signs and symptoms

Some general symptoms to be aware of include:

  • Fever or chills.
  • Coughing and / or sneezing.
  • Aches and pains.
  • Feelings of tiredness or fatigue.
  • Digestive upset (such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhoea)

Contact NHS 111 if you are concerned about symptoms of an infection.

How to help protect yourself and others from infections

  • Make sure you are vaccinated.
  • Practice good hand hygiene.
  • Cover your mouth when you cough and / or sneeze.
  • Cover cuts.
  • Make sure food is properly cooked.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • When travelling abroad be aware of any infections common to the area and remember to use insect repellent to avoid being bitten

Pandemic influenza

Influenza pandemics are listed as a top risk in the UK's National Risk Register.

Pandemic occurs when a new influenza virus emerges and spreads globally and to which there is very little or no pre-existing immunity. In this way pandemic influenza is different from ‘ordinary’ seasonal flu, which for most people is not life-threatening.

The Department of Health is working to support NHS preparedness and to reduce the impact of pandemic flu on the UK population. Within Dudley the Office of Public Health is working with other partner agencies to ensure that the area is prepared for the onset of any pandemic.

Who is at risk?

When a flu pandemic starts everyone will be at risk of an infection, however, certain people may be at greater risk than others.

Those more vulnerable might include:

  • Young children.
  • People over the age of 65.
  • People with existing medical conditions.
  • People who have problems with their immune systems due to illnesses or treatments​

Pandemic influenza - General signs and symptoms

The symptoms of Pandemic flu are similar to ‘ordinary’ flu but may be more severe and are likely to include:

  • Sudden onset of fever.
  • Headache.
  • Severe weakness and fatigue.
  • Aching muscles and joints.
  • Respiratory symptoms (such as cough, sore throat, and runny nose)

Complications include bronchitis and pneumonia.

How to help protect yourself and others from pandemic flu

  • Always cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and throw the tissue away in a bin after you use it.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water after sneezing of coughing and before handling food and eating.
  • Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth as germs often spread this way

If you think you have flu stay at home, drink plenty of fluids and call NHS 111 if you need advice.

Further information