The Public Health etc. (Scotland) Act 2008

You are in: Skip Navigation LinksHPS Home | Public Health Act | Notifiable Disease Data

Notifiable Disease Data

Background

The information presented in this section is derived from data on notifiable diseases that have been returned to HPS by NHS boards under the terms of public health legislation. Notifiable diseases will include mumps, measles, rubella and tuberculosis (a full list of notifiable diseases is available from the Legislation Government website)

Notifications of diseases are made upon a clinical suspicion of an infection.  They do not necessarily confirm the presence of the disease itself.  GPs are encouraged to seek laboratory confirmation of infection where necessary.  The number of notifications, therefore, may differ from the number of laboratory confirmed cases.

Data Collection

Described below is the process that was followed by HPS to collect data on notifiable infectious diseases.  Note that responsibility for the collection and future publication of this data was transferred to HPS in 2007 from the Information Services Division (ISD).

Notifications of infectious diseases are recorded on two aggregate datasets:

  • provisional weekly notifications are collected via electronic transfer from individual NHS board databases and imported into a central database the Scottish Infectious Disease Surveillance System (SIDSS2)
  • annual notification data are collected via electronic transfer from individual NHS board databases and imported into a central database, SIDSS2 (for tuberculosis, annual notifications data is provided from the ESMI scheme).

The weekly figures, although classified as provisional and subject to revision, allow regular monitoring of infection and provide up-to-date information on outbreaks.

The annual figures are based on notifications returned to HPS from NHS boards, including any reclassifications of provisional diagnoses. They offer the opportunity to study longer time series.

Notifications data complement other ascertainment sources, such as laboratory confirmation, of communicable diseases cases. However, they should be treated with caution and interpreted with respect to these other sources.

Provisional notifications and more detailed information, including data on laboratory reports, are published in our HPS Weekly Report and in scientific journals.

Annual Data - 2013

The 2013 data section contains a summary of key points for 2013 and detailed tables and charts of notifiable infectious diseases data for 2013 and previous years.

Please note: From 2010 the following diseases are no longer notifiable - Bacillary dysentery, Chickenpox, Erysipelas, Food poisoning, Legionellosis, Leptospirosis, Lyme disease, Malaria, Puerperal fever, Scarlet fever, Toxoplasmosis, Typhus fever and Viral hepatitis. To access historical trends on these diseases please refer to the 2009 Notifiable disease data files.

Terminology

These data use the term confirmed in a particular way. NHS boards submit numbers of notifications on a weekly, provisional basis and revise their submissions in an annual summary, usually in the spring of each year. These revised figures do not necessarily indicate the presence of the infection itself.  True confirmation of infection can be made by laboratory investigation and whether this has taken place is not recorded in SIDSS2. Thus, notifications remain a clinical suspicion of infection and counts may differ from those of laboratory confirmed cases.

For example, salivary surveillance schemes exist for measles, mumps and rubella. In a paper published in the SCIEH Weekly Report (now HPS Weekly Report), the incidence of these diseases in 2002 was low compared to the numbers of notifications submitted. For example under 1% of measles notifications showed evidence of recent infection; for mumps, 21% of notifications followed through by laboratory test showed evidence of recent infection; and none of the laboratory tests for rubella showed evidence of recent infection.

Reference:  Bramley, Claire. Enhanced salivary surveillance for measles, mumps and rubella, Scotland, 2002. SCIEH Weekly Report, vol. 37, no. 2003/34, 26 August 2003.