Image of the Immune System infographic

Immune system by numbers infographic

A snapshot of immunity and allergy

In each issue, we produce an infographic capturing interesting and visual information about a particular topic. Download a colour or B&W PDF version from the bottom of this page to see the statistics on:

  • measles cases and MMR vaccine coverage in England
  • asthma across the world
  • common allergens
  • generation times of different bacteria
  • production of antibodies by B cells.

We have also some references and questions relating to each section. 

Measles cases and MMR vaccine coverage in England

Sources for measles cases:

Public Health England: Confirmed cases of measles 2012–13

Public Health England: Confirmed cases of measles 1996–2013 

Source for MMR coverage:

NHS Immunisation Statistics, p. 31

Other references include:

Lancet: the article that started the MMR vaccine scare (1998) 

Guardian: MMR vaccinations fall to new low (2004)

BBC News: MMR vaccine uptake reaches 14-year high (2012) 

Telegraph: MMR uptakes rates finally recovered (2012)

Question 1: Can you see any potential links between the written information on the graph and the number of cases of measles?

Question 2: When the proportion of a population that has been immunised against a specific disease passes a certain threshold, ‘herd immunity’ exists. This means that even people who have not been vaccinated are protected. Read more on herd immunity. For measles to be kept under control, 95 per cent of people must have been vaccinated. What does the information on the graph tell you about MMR coverage in England? What might this mean for the spread of measles, mumps or rubella?

Asthma across the world


World Allergy Organization: White Book on Allergy (2013)

Question: Do a survey in your class or study group to find out how many people have asthma. How do your data compare to national or global figures? Are you surprised by your findings?

Common allergens


• Web MD: Allergic reaction

Question: Searching online, can you find the most common allergen in the UK? How does this vary across different parts of the world? Why?

Generation times of different bacteria


Whole genome sequencing of Mycobacterium tuberculosis reveals slow growth and low mutation rates during latent infections in humans (2014)

Online Textbook of Bacteriology: Growth of bacterial populations

Molecular assays for determining Mycobacterium leprae viability in tissues of experimentally infected mice (2013)

Question: The graphic shows four types of bacterium: two with relatively short generation times, two with relatively long ones. The latter two cause chronic diseases. Search online to investigate what links there are, if any, between a slow generation time and chronic diseases. How might a slow generation time influence how the immune system responds to a particular organism?

Production of antibodies by B cells


The promise and challenge of high-throughput sequencing of the antibody repertoire (2014) 

Question: Antibodies (immunoglobulins) are produced by plasma B cells. Search online to see how the structure of plasma B cells is different to that of their precursor B cells. How do these differences help plasma B cells perform their specialised function of producing many antibody molecules?

Lead image:

‘Big Picture: Immune System’ CC BY

Downloadable resources

About this resource

This resource was first published in ‘Immune System’ in January 2015.

Immunology, Health, infection and disease
Immune System
Education levels:
16–19, Continuing professional development