Most common infectious diseases fell sharply in Switzerland in 2020, according to recently published data from the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH). However, one rose.
Measures put in place to slow the spread of Covid-19 appear to have cut the spread of most common infectious diseases in Switzerland in 2020.
The FOPH examined the most common 16 infectious diseases in Switzerland. Almost all of them showed decreases ranging from 15% to 90% percent compared to previous years. The only exception was tick-borne meningoencephalitis (TBE), which increased by 13%. This may reflect more time spent outside in nature during the pandemic.
Rates of some infectious diseases fell by more than half. Pneumococcal infections (-58%), Shigellosis (-82%), Malaria (-72%) and Dengue Fever (-90%), were down substantially compared to 2019.
Others, such as Legionnaires (-32%), HIV (-28%), Tuberculosis (-26%), Salmonella (-27%), Campylobacteriosis (-24%), Syphilis (-36%) and Gonorrhea (-32%), were down by around a quarter to a third.
The rate of influenza fell by 15%.
Mark Witschi, Head of Vaccination Recommendations and Control Measures of the Communicable Diseases Department of the FOPH, said that the decline is primarily due to the hygiene measures that were taken during the pandemic. Wearing masks has largely slowed down spread, which is why there was no flu epidemic over winter.
Lower rates of tropical diseases reflect the impact of the pandemic on international travel.
Diarrheal diseases transmitted through food also decreased. According to the FOPH, this is because the population washed their hands more often. Sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV also decreased. FOPH attributes this to reduced contact.
Will the change last?
“I can well imagine that many people will continue to wash their hands in the future or continue to wear a mask on public transport. This will help, for example, to reduce respiratory-transmitted diseases”, said Witschi.