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The Microbiology Society issues topical briefing papers, which provide need-to-know information on various subjects such as hospital-acquired infections, climate change and pandemic influenza. These resources are prepared with the help of our members. To request hard copies of these resources please contact our Policy Officer on


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  1. Human Fungal Diseases

    March 2016

    Over a billion people suffer from relatively minor fungal infections, such as athlete’s foot and thrush, while more serious fungal infections are thought to cause around 1.5 million deaths worldwide each year. Human fungal disease burden could be greatly reduced by improving development of, and global access to, new antifungal treatments and rapid diagnostics. Strengthening public health capabilities and research on understanding and preventing fungal infection is also important.

  2. Food security from the soil microbiome

    December 2015

    The soil microbiome – the community of soil micro-organisms found in soil – is crucial for food security and the health of our soils. Microbiologists are investigating better understanding of the diversity and function of the soil microbiome, and harnessing it as a tool for sustainable agricultural intensification.

  3. Microbiology and climate change

    November 2015

    Micro-organisms play crucial roles in climate change as users and producers of greenhouse gases. Climate change is increasing risks to public health and agriculture from microbial diseases. Managing and harnessing microbial processes could help us mitigate and adapt to climate change.

  4. Emerging zoonotic diseases

    June 2015

    Emerging zoonotic diseases are infectious diseases that can be transmitted between vertebrate animals and humans, which have been newly identified, or are increasing in incidence or geographic range. Examples include Ebola, avian influenza and West Nile virus. They pose threats to global public health and economic security.

  5. Energy from food waste

    January 2015

    Food waste in the UK is a valuable, sustainable energy source, once anaerobic digestion has broken it down into biogas.

  6. Endemic livestock disease

    July 2014

    Endemic livestock diseases are found in cows, pigs, sheep and poultry and include mastitis, tuberculosis, avian colibacillosis, and salmonellosis. They are caused by infectious micro-organisms, some of which rapidly evolve to escape control.

  7. Banana disease

    April 2014

    Fusarium wilt is caused by a fungus, Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense. The TR4 strain targets Cavendish bananas, as well as many other banana varieties.

  8. Polio

    October 2013

    Polio is a serious viral infection that can cause paralysis.

  9. Measles

    June 2013

    Measles is a viral disease spread through inhaling viral particles from infected coughs and sneezes.

  10. Microbes and the food supply

    May 2013

    Microbiology is vital to preserve a sustainable, safe and secure food supply.

  11. The Human Microbiota

    February 2013

    The human microbiota is the community of trillions of micro-organisms that live on and in the body. It can play a vital role in regulating our health and has been linked to diseases such as type II diabetes and Crohn’s disease. It is therefore under intensive scientific investigation.

  12. Ash dieback

    November 2012

    Ash dieback is an infectious disease of ash trees caused by a microscopic fungus, Chalara fraxinea.

  13. Legionnaires' disease

    September 2012

    Watch the Hot Topic Lecture: Legionnaires' disease - dead legs and shower heads, which featured at the Society for General Microbiology Autumn Conference held at University of Warwick, 3-5 September 2012.

  14. Malaria

    August 2012

    Malaria is an infectious disease caused by a single-celled parasitic organism, Plasmodium, which infects the blood and liver.

  15. Couch potato or elite athlete?

    July 2012

    Watch Mike Gleeson's talk: Fighting Fit - how exercise affects your immunity and susceptibility to infection

  16. Schmallenberg

    March 2012

    Watch the Hot Topic Lecture Schmallenberg virus - fact from fiction, which featured at the Society for General Microbiology Spring Conference 2012 held at the Convention Centre Dublin, 26-29 March 2012.

  17. Tuberculosis

    February 2012

    Tuberculosis is a bacterial disease that caused illness in an estimated 8.8 million people globally in 2010 and led to 1.45 million deaths.

  18. Viruses and cancer

    January 2012

    Viruses and Cancer: Worldwide, viruses are associated with the development of around 15% of cancers. In 2010, viruses were found to be linked to around 9,750 (3%) cancer cases in the UK, with human papillomavirus (HPV) responsible for around half of these.

  19. Food-borne pathogens

    December 2011

    Food-borne pathogens are a major threat to food safety. Most food-borne illness is caused by infection by microbial pathogens that have entered the food chain at some point from farm to fork. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that food-borne and water-borne diarrhoeal diseases together kill around 2.2 million people annually.

  20. Influenza

    October 2011

    Influenza or ‘flu’ is a viral infection that mainly affects the nose, throat and lungs. Good hygiene practices such as correct hand washing are essential to help prevent the spread of flu.

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