Incidence of Microbial Infections in English UK Biobank Participants: Comparison with the General Population
Hilton B., Wilson D., O'Connell A-M., Ironmonger D., Rudkin J., Allen N., Oliver I., Wyllie D.
Background: Our understanding of the genetic and environmental risk factors for serious bacterial infectious disease in ageing populations remains incomplete. Utilising the UK Biobank (UKB), a prospective cohort study of 500,000 men and women aged 40-69 years at recruitment (2006-2010), could help address this. Objectives: To assess the feasibility of linking an England-wide dataset of microbiological isolations to UK Biobank participants, and to characterise microbial isolation from UK Biobank participants. Methods: Positive microbiological isolations from patients in England, as recorded in the Public Health England Second Generation Surveillance System (SGSS), were linked to UK Biobank participants using pseudonymised identifiers. Results: By January 2015, the ascertainment of laboratory reports from UK Biobank participants by SGSS was estimated at 98%. 4.5% of English UK Biobank participants had a positive microbiological isolate in 2015; Escherichia coli, other Enterobacteriaceae and Staphylococcus aureus were the most common isolates. Half the UKB isolates were obtained from 12 microbiology laboratories, and 70% from 21 laboratories. Incidence rate ratios for microbial isolation, which is indicative of serious infection, from the UK Biobank cohort relative to the comparably aged general population ranged from 0.6 to 1 for different organisms, compatible with the previously described healthy participant bias in UKB. Conclusions: Data on microbial isolations can be linked to UKB participants from January 2015 onwards. This linked data would offer new opportunities for research into infectious disease in older individuals.