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Infectious diseases


Infectious diseases are one of the most prominent threats to public health globally. Multiple types of organisms cause infectious disease, including bacteria (for example, urinary tract infections, tuberculosis), viruses (for example, the common cold, influenza, and coronaviruses), fungi (for example, ringworm), and parasitic organisms (for example, malaria).

Infectious diseases can spread directly or indirectly in multiple different ways. For example, they may spread through droplets in the air, by exchanging bodily fluids, and by consuming contaminated food. Infectious diseases can spread between humans (including from mother to unborn child) as well as between animals and humans.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted exactly how detrimental coronaviruses can be to public health over the last 2+ years. However, many other infectious diseases have a significant, negative effect worldwide. Some examples of infectious agents affecting millions of people globally are Dengue fever, Ebola, HIV, Measles, Legionella, tuberculosis, West Nile fever, and Zika virus. Research into these infectious agents and efforts to monitor their spread took place before the COVID-19 pandemic, continued throughout, and will progress into the future. For example, Influenza is a seasonal airway infection that affects thousands of people in Sweden annually. Influenza can cause severe disease and possibly even lead to death in individuals where the immune response is compromised in some way (for example, in the elderly). The four subtypes of influenza (A, B, C, and D) are well known, but novel strains regularly emerge, and can result in outbreaks or even pandemics (for example, the Spanish flu). Given the potential negative effects of influenza on public health, continuous efforts are made to monitor its spread and to develop vaccines against novel strains. See the website of the Swedish Public Health Agency for more information related to influenza and how it is managed in Sweden (resources in Swedish).

It is clear then, that further work into known, emerging, and novel infectious diseases is warranted. In paticular, research is needed to elucidate their pathogenicity, the development of resistance to existing treatments (including antibiotic resistance), and to develop effective policies and treatments to minimise their impact. Further, surveillance is required to monitor their spread, as this will show when/where outbreaks occur and enable us to contain them.

For more information on how infectious diseases are monitored in Europe, see the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) pages. For statistics regarding infectious diseases that are reported to the authorities in Sweden, see the Swedish Public Health Agency pages.

Data highlights (41)

May 21, 2024
New findings from Nilsson and colleagues showed that sialylated glycan structures, previously thought to be exclusive to mammals, are present in the three avian species studied.
January 19, 2024
Babačić and colleagues expanded the coverage of the soluble blood proteome using mass spectrometry. In order to support further research in this area, their results have been added to an open-access app.
September 20, 2023
This study by Knöppel, Broström et al is a large effort to elucidate replication initiation in bacteria. The authors have openly shared over 3 TB of microscopy imaging data.

Dashboards (11)

The COVID Symptom Study Sweden (CSSS) collects data on COVID-19 prevalence, symptoms, and vaccinations through a smart phone app with over 200.000 users in Sweden. Raw data can be requested for use in research projects.
A summary of the COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2 publications produced involving at least one contributor from a Swedish university or research institute. Shows publications over time and key words/phrases within them.
CRUSH Covid maps outbreaks in Uppsala County by visualising the number of cases, test positivity, and geographic distribution, among other things. Data for each postal code is available for download and reuse.

Editorials (2)

April 5, 2024
A perspective on Bacillus anthracis, a pathogen known as a biological threat, and how WGS data and surveillance can help researchers respond to cases and threats.
Infectious Diseases
February 15, 2024
A perspective on what makes a pathogen through the lens of the microbes in our bodies and how we, as hosts, interact with them.
Infectious Diseases

Sample collections (36)

Name Type Size Materials
Dalarna biobank (forskningsprov och nyinsamlade prov):
SARS-CoV-2 PCR positiva Dalarna
Healthcare sample collection 1000 - 10.000 Nasal swab Throat swab
Gävleborg biobank:
Klinisk mikrobiologi
Healthcare sample collection 1000 - 10.000 Nasal swab Serum Throat swab Other
Halland biobank:
Patologen Halland
Healthcare sample collection 100 - 1000 Tissue (stained sections/slides) Tissue (paraffin preserved)

Ongoing research projects (50)

Project title Funder
Mental health of young LGBTQ+ people: Trends over time and during the COVID-19 pandemic, causes of mental ill-health, and ways to improve mental health of young LGBTQ+ people

Host institute: Karolinska Institute
Principal investigator: Kyriaki Kosidou

The fatigue cohort - A longitudinal study on psychobiological mechanisms in post-COVID, chronic fatigue and exhaustion syndromes.

Host institute: Stockholms universitet
Principal investigator: Anna Andreasson

The unequal pandemic: investigating the relationship between health equity and political responses to covid-19

Host institute: Stockholms universitet
Principal investigator: Karl Gauffin