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First half of 2020 sees decline in several infectious diseases

A number of cases of several infectious diseases decreased in Ireland during the first half of 2020 compared to the same time period last year, according to a report from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC).

Analysis of data from the centre reveals that social distancing measures introduced to curb the spread of Covid-19 are having an impact on reducing cases of other infectious diseases.

The decline in many infectious diseases may also be related to the fall in hospital and emergency department attendances in recent months due to fears among individuals of contracting Covid-19. 

For instance, during the first 25 weeks of 2020 there were 3,100 cases of chlamydia compared to 4,190 for the same time period the previous year.

The number of cases of gonorrhoea has also fallen, slipping from 1,333 last year to 1,037 up to 20 June this year.

Cases of genital herpes simplex during the same time period dropped from 792 in 2019 to 526 this year.

Similarly, the number of cases of syphilis, measles, noroviral infection and viral meningitis have reduced, the report shows.

Influenza cases have stayed relatively stable, falling by just 17 cases during the time period (the first 25 weeks of the year).

Not all infectious diseases recorded a decline, however.  The number of mumps cases has increased dramatically.

Data shows there were 1,400 cases of mumps in the first 25 weeks of 2019 compared to 2,744 during the same period this year. In 2018 around 575 cases of mumps were recorded.  

Weekly analysis of mumps cases shows that the number of cases spiked at the start of 2020 but declined when the lockdown was introduced at the end of March.

Data of mumps cases in 2020 reveals the age groups most affected are the 15-19 and 20-24 age cohorts.

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