The coronavirus pandemic has thrown the spotlight on health in a way we’ve never seen before. And it’s got many of us thinking about hygiene and how that can help to control the spread of infectious diseases.

When it comes to keeping our buildings and our hands clean, most of us will have infections such as coronavirus, common colds and flu in mind, but what about other diseases that we can catch from being in close proximity to one another. And as international travel opens up, which infectious diseases are prevalent elsewhere in the world that could potentially spread?

During research in bringing our range of air and surface sanitisers that’s helping organisations transform how they approach infection control to market, our teams researched diseases found in the world today that the general public might not have known were prevalent.

Here is just a selection of diseases that might be more common that you’d think in the world today. Though most are rare in the UK, what it does demonstrate is that good hygiene should always be a consideration, not just during a pandemic.


There were 5,141 cases of tuberculosis (TB) officially notified to the Government in 2019, and although this is the lowest level of the disease since 1960 officials are taking steps towards eradicating the disease. TB is a bacterial infection of the lungs, which can cause the infected person to cough up bloody mucus. Night sweats, temperature, tiredness and swellings in the neck are other symptoms. In the UK it is much more prevalent in deprived areas, seven times more so in fact. It is spread through the inhalation of infectious droplets in a similar way to coronavirus and other respiratory diseases. TB can be fatal and kills around 1.6million people in the world every year.

Worldwide in 2020 India had the highest share of TB cases in the world accounting for 17% of global cases. It is followed by Nigeria (11%), Indonesia (10%), Pakistan (8%) and Philippines (7%).


Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that can lead to jaundice (yellowing of the skin), sickness and muscle/joint pain. It’s often associated with substance misuse, sharing needles and sexually transmitted diseases. But it’s not widely known that there are actually five different types of the disease, some of which can be contracted by ingesting contaminated food and drink, close contact and even infectious particles on surfaces.

Over 300million people worldwide are affected with hepatitis and presentations of the disease range from chronic to asymptomatic and it can be fatal. Washing hands thoroughly is one of the ways to prevent contracting Hepatitis.

The World Health Organisation recognises viral hepatitis as a major public health challenge. Worldwide, some 325 million people who have chronic hepatitis B or C.


Mostly found in regions where hygiene and sanitation are poor, there are nearly 3million cases of cholera worldwide and around 95,000 deaths per year. Cholera symptoms include watery diarrhoea, it is an infection of the intestine caused by ingesting bacteria – mainly from poor water supplies. Nigeria currently has a deadly outbreak of the disease. Although it is rare on our shores, there were 11 cases identified in the UK in 2019.


The last case of polio in the UK was in the mid-1980s, however it is still prevalent in some areas of the world. During the 50s and 60s it was an outbreak of polio in Copenhagen that sparked the start of intensive care medicine and mechanical ventilation outside of operating theatres, as hospital admissions rocketed, and hundreds died of respiratory failure.

Polio causes a crushing paralysis of the lungs which leaves patients unable to breathe unassisted. By 2016 there were only 42 cases of polio anywhere in the world, but numbers are rising and in 2020 this had risen to 800 cases of all forms of the disease. Regions of concern include Afghanistan and Pakistan, but rogue strains of polio have also been identified in sub-Saharan Africa, Yemen, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Bubonic Plague

Most people believe the bubonic plague to have been eradicated but according to the World Health Organisation it is still found in some of the world. Plague is a severe disease and has a mortality rate of between 30% and 100% if untreated. During the Black Death in the fourteenth century, it wiped out huge sections of the population and was responsible for 50 million deaths, but it can be treated with antibiotics.

Figures that might surprise people are that between 2010 to 2015, there were 3,248 cases worldwide, including 584 deaths.


Ebola is a disease that strikes fear into the hearts of medical professionals and lay people alike. It has a very high mortality rate, the average being 50% but, in some outbreaks, this has been much higher (up to 90%). Since the disease was discovered in 1976 there have been numerous outbreaks mainly contained to the continent of Africa. It’s spread from human to human through direct contact with contaminated bodily fluids.

Leave a Reply