What is a communicable disease, according to you?
Well, communicable diseases are nothing but infectious diseases that are transmitted from one person to another. These are the illnesses caused by infection, growth and presence of pathogenic agents in an animal or a human.
The infections may be severe or less concerning without any symptoms. So we should understand that “infections” and “infectious diseases” are not the same as not every infection cause illnesses in the body of the host.
Communicable diseases are caused by various disease-causing organisms, including bacteria, viruses, protozoa, parasites, fungi and prions, aberrant proteins.
Communicable diseases spread in various ways, via direct contact with the one who is an infected person, sexual intercourse, consumption of contaminated food, contact with contaminated surfaces, or air or insect bites.
Some of the examples of communicable diseases are as follows:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
The mechanism of any communicable disease is that when a pathogen enters the human body, it begins reduplicating itself. This makes the host experience the symptoms of a certain disease.
The signs and symptoms of the disease may be due to direct invasion of a pathogen in the host’s body or due to the response of the host’s immune system.
Usually, the symptoms of communicable diseases are mild. Communicable diseases are often treatable, but some may be threatening to life.
Management of communicable diseases
Communicable diseases must be appropriately managed so that no further infections take place. In places like hospitals, doctors and nurses play an essential role in educating the staff, patients, and families.
It is really important to make sure that other healthy individuals do not use the things used by the infected person; their urine and excreta are disposed of properly.
Proper sanitation and hygiene should be maintained so that no further infectious agents infect the surrounding.
Types of communicable diseases
There are four major types of communicable diseases based on the causative agents. The causative agents are bacteria, protists, fungi, and viruses.
These are the single-celled and prokaryotic microscopic organisms. They are omnipresent, even in the body of the human body. Some of them are not that harmful, but others damage the body by causing severe infections.
Some of the examples of bacterial pathogens that cause infection are:
A. Salmonella and Escherichia coli
Escherichia coli and Salmonella are some varieties of bacteria that can infect the human digestive system.
The main source of bacterial infection is through contaminated food and contaminated water, like improperly washed vegetables and fruits or undercooked or uncooked meat, fish, pork.
A few of the symptoms include:
- abdominal cramp
A bacterial infection, tuberculosis, primarily targets the lungs of the host. The following are the symptoms of tuberculosis:
- persistent cough, for more than three weeks
- sudden weight loss
- night sweating
- sudden loss in appetite
TB is an airborne communicable disease. The bacteria spread from the infected person to the next, in the form of aerosols, when the infected person sneezes or coughs openly in the air.
According to the American Lung Association, tuberculosis is a disease that cannot easily spread from one person to another, though it is contagious.
Cholera is a contagious infectious disease that leads to severe watery diarrhea, which eventually causes dehydration and can be fatal if untreated. Cholera disease is caused by a bacterium named Vibrio Cholerae.
The main cause of cholera is consuming contaminated food or drinking water that is infected with the pathogen. This disease is more prevalent in places with unhygienic environments and poor sanitation facilities.
Cholera has the following symptoms, which are listed below:
- fast heart rate
- dry mucous membrane
- loss of skin elasticity
- low blood pressure
- muscle cramps
- watery stools
These are the single-celled microscopic organisms that may lead to various diseases at times. Some of the parasitic protists are notorious and cause the disease.
Malaria is a communicable disease caused by the parasitic protists named “Plasmodium”. This parasite spreads from one person to another through mosquito bites via a mosquito vector.
But not all varieties of mosquitoes are vectors or carriers for the parasite. Only female Anopheles mosquitoes are the vector for the parasite.
Malaria can lead to some major issues if it stays untreated. Some of the main signs and symptoms which can be observed in an individual suffering from this disease are as follows:
- muscle pain
This is one of the communicable diseases caused by protozoa named Giardia lamblia. It affects the small intestine of the host. It spreads by coming in contact with the infected individuals.
One can get infected by this protist by drinking contaminated water or by consuming contaminated food. Giardia may also come in contact with pet cats and dogs.
This communicable disease is much more common in poor sanitary conditions and unhygienic surroundings.
Giardiasis has many symptoms. Some of the symptoms are listed below:
- greasy stools
- loss of appetite
- abdominal cramps
- weight loss
- excessive gas production
- abdominal pain
It is a communicable disease caused by obligate intracellular protozoa of the genus Leishmania. It spreads when an infected sandfly bites a person.
Leishmaniasis has many varieties, visceral leishmaniasis and cutaneous leishmaniasis being the most common.
The symptoms of Cutaneous Leishmaniasis include:
- sores on skin
- skin ulcers
The symptoms of visceral leishmaniasis include:
- weight loss
- enlargement of spleen and liver
- low red blood cell count
- low platelet count
Fungi is a group of multicellular organisms like molds, mushrooms, and yeast. Some fungi are edible, while some may cause certain communicable diseases in human beings.
Though a fungus can attack any part of the host’s body, its main targets are mucous membrane and skin. Some of the examples of infections caused by fungi are listed below:
A. Athlete’s foot
In this communicable disease, the fungus affects the skin around the feet, leading to white itchy patches or sore between the toes.
People can acquire this disease via direct contact with a contaminated surface, which is contaminated by that particular fungus, or by getting in touch with the person infected.
That is the reason why we are recommended not to walk barefoot.
Ringworm is a very common communicable disease. It affects the skin, causing silver or red ring-shaped lesions or rashes. These may be scaly, itchy or dry.
People can acquire ringworm by coming in physical contact with the infected person or by using the towel, bed, and personal belongings of the person affected with ringworm.
If ringworm remains untreated, it may spread to other parts of the host body.
C. Jock itch
Jock itch is also called tinea cruris. This infection is more prevalent in men. It affects the skin around the groin area the inner areas of your buttocks and thighs.
It spreads by coming in contact with an infected person or by using the infected person’s stuff.
The symptoms of jock itch are listed below:
- changes in skin color
- cracking or flaking skin
- burning sensation
- rashes, which deteriorates on exercising
Viruses are non-living when present in the environment and switch to living organisms inside the host body.
Once the virus enters the host body, it uses the cell machinery of a host cell to replicate and make its copies.
Given below are some examples of viruses that cause many communicable diseases:
The human immunodeficiency virus is one of the severe threats to public health. Once this infectious agent infects the body, the person becomes susceptible to many other diseases and infections.
The common source of HIV is through contacting blood and other bodily fluids in which the virus is present. This does not spread by normal physical contact, like shaking hands or hugging.
The signs and symptoms of HIV are given below:
- sore throat
- night sweating
- mouth sores
- swollen lymph nodes
- muscle aches
As far as the treatment is concerned, HIV has no cure. If HIV is not treated, it can lead to AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).
Rhinoviruses are a group of airborne viruses which are the leading cause of the common cold. The symptoms of a common cold are given below:
- sore throat
- a stuffy or runny nose
A person can get infected with rhinovirus by inhaling droplets affected with rhinovirus when affected by this infectious agent.
Rhinoviruses can spread from one person to another by contacting contaminated surfaces and inhaling contaminated air.
C. Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)
A severe acute respiratory syndrome is a communicable disease with coronavirus’s causative agent. It spreads very quickly and affects a larger population in a short span of time.
This disease spreads from an infected person to a healthy person when the infected person coughs, sneezes, and talks, and the droplets contaminate the air inhaled by the healthy person, leading to the disease.
The symptoms of SARS include the following:
- dry cough
- running nose
- shortness of breath
- fever with temperature around 100.5°F or above
- loss of sense of smell
- loss of sense of taste
Communicable disease prevention
Communicable diseases spread quickly and infect a lot of people in lesser intervals. But there are some ways following which disease control can be done.
There are some vaccine-preventable diseases like influenza the common cold. The following preventable steps can be taken:
- eating spoiled food should be avoided
- touching animals should be avoided
- washing hands before and after eating
- regularly disinfecting surfaces
- practicing good hygienic practices during cooking and handling foods
- keeping your surroundings clean always
Treatment of communicable diseases
Some infectious diseases can get cured without treatment, but others can turn into something serious if kept untreated. The treatment for different types of diseases is further mentioned below:
1. Bacterial infection
If a person is suffering from bacterial diseases, then antibiotics are recommended. The antibiotics work by destroying the bacteria and preventing them from further multiplication.
2. Fungal infection
If a person is suffering from a fungal infection, antifungal medicines are recommended. These medicines can be taken orally as well as taken as an ointment.
3. Viral infection
A highly effective method to tackle viral infection is vaccines. A vaccine may contain a dead virus or an inactive virus.
When the inactivated virus enters the body, the immune system generates antibodies against the virus, enabling the body to fight with the active form of the virus by killing it on the very first encounter.
Disease prevention should be our priority always. Communicable diseases are illnesses that can be prevented if proper precautions are taken. Maintaining good hygiene is important if you want to stay healthy and lead a happy life.
One should always be aware of the possible sources of acquiring these communicable diseases and try to eliminate the possibilities. Getting all the vaccinations done at the right time is essential.
Also, it is important for the ones who are sexually active to keep a check on their partners and themselves for any infections. To avoid any chances of getting infected during intercourse, it is therefore advised to use proper protection and precautions.
Whenever you go for blood donation or blood transfusion, make sure that a new and adequately sterilized needle is being used because a contaminated needle can be a potent source of bacteria and viruses.
So, please take all the precautions on time before you have to regret it. And as it is said, “precaution is always better than cure”, so abide by it.
Maintain proper hygiene and sanitation, always look out for symptoms, and stay updated.
I hope you found this article informative and helpful enough to keep you updated on communicable diseases, their prevention, and treatment.
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