Tuberculosis ranks high in the top fatal Communicable Diseases list in the world. It takes around 1.2 million lives every year.
Communicable Diseases are quite feared all around the globe. And justifiably so, given their efficiency in causing pandemics. In the past, four Influenza pandemics resulted in 22 to 58 million deaths. While the COVID-19 nightmare is still fresh in our memories.
However, no matter how difficult it may seem, Communicable Diseases prevention is possible. And, awareness plays a key role in it. So, let's enlighten ourselves on the matter and stay better prepared to face them.
What are Communicable Diseases?
Also, called ‘Infectious’ or ‘Transmissible’, a communicable disease is an illness that can pass between humans or animals. They are caused by infection, existence, or growth of pathogens in a person or animal host. Communicable Diseases symptoms vary from asymptomatic and mild to severe and fatal.
Common Types of Communicable Diseases
Infectious Diseases are classified by several means. They include:
Signs and symptoms
Mode of transmission
Category of the pathogens
As far as disease-causing microbes go, there are 4 main types of Communicable Diseases.
Bacteria - These microscopic single-celled organisms exist almost everywhere. That includes the human body too. While some are beneficial for body functions, others lead to infections.
Virus - These tiny pathogens have genetic material. They do not possess a cell structure. To reproduce, they go inside the cells of other living beings. After that, they use the diverse components at their disposal to duplicate themselves.
Protozoa - These are single-celled microscopic organisms that lead to diseases like malaria. Some are parasites that depend on the nutrients of other living beings for survival.
Fungi - These include moulds, yeasts, and mushrooms. The list of fungi is in millions with about 300 of them harmful.
Examples of Communicable Diseases
California law orders the local health departments to report about 80 Communicable Diseases.
However, the most familiar names in the Communicable Diseases list include:
Salmonella and Escherichia coli (causes food poisoning)
Hepatitis A, B, C
Athlete’s foot (causes itchy scaly rashes on the feet)
Lyme disease (infection caused by tick bite)
Symptoms of Communicable Diseases
Communicable Diseases symptoms depend on the kind of ailment you are having. Like, if you are suffering from fungal infections, the signs will mostly be localized. Ringworm, for instance, leads to circular rashes that are red and itchy.
In contrast to that, viral (eg. Influenza) and bacterial (eg. Tuberculosis) infections affect the entire body. Or are spread across different parts of your body. The most prevalent Communicable Diseases symptoms in such ailments include:
Cough and Congestion
Loss of appetite
Gastrointestinal problems (vomiting, diarrhea, etc)
Causes Behind Communicable Diseases
Houseflies that shamelessly get inside your home are not just unwelcomed guests. They are also the most common carrier of Communicable Diseases. The spread of the diseases can be a result of other factors too.
Skin contact with the individual who is carrying the bug.
Exposure to the bodily fluids that contain the pathogen.
Inhaling droplets of the cough and sneeze of the infected person.
Getting bitten by a pathogen-carrying animal or insect.
Eating contaminated food or drink.
Sexual intercourse with the infected individual.
Contact with contaminated surfaces.
Can Communicable Diseases be Inherited?
Communicable Diseases are no doubt infectious. But some researchers believe your genes play a key role in whether the disease will make you sick or not. As per them, some individuals may inherit certain genes that make them more vulnerable to specific infections. They take it to be a valid reason to explain the severity of symptoms in Herpes Simplex Type 1. While most patients get away with mere cold sores on their lips, a few of them end up in an intensive care unit.
Certainly, more research is needed to back the concept further. But, if it is true, identifying the genetic defect may be the missing link to unlocking potent drugs. This can aid doctors to better diagnose and be of help to patients who do not respond to present medicines.
Who Is At Greater Risk of Having Communicable Diseases?
Even if we ignore the gene factor, some are more prone to suffer from Communicable Diseases. They are:
Aged Adults who are 65 years or more.
Children under 2 years.
Individuals who are not vaccinated against common Communicable conditions.
Those facing health and social disparities (geography, economic condition, race, etc.)
Those with certain medical conditions like
How to Treat Communicable Diseases?
The causal factor is a major criterion to determine Communicable Diseases treatment. At times, doctors prefer to keep the patients under careful monitoring. Rather than prescribing drugs right away.
Here are some medications they usually recommend:
Antibiotics are best for bacterial infections.
There are over-the-counter drugs for viral infections. For flu, Oseltamivir Phosphate is a common medicine. While antiretroviral therapy is great for HIV patients.
For fungal infections, there are many anti-fungal drugs. There are medicines like Gluconazole that should be taken orally. Whereas creams like Clotrimazole need to be applied directly on the infected spot. The latter is highly effective for Athlete's Foot and Ringworm.
Antiparasitic medicines like Mebendazole are great for parasites.
How to Prevent Communicable Diseases?
With effective Communicable Diseases remedies, quickening the recovery process is possible. But, given many infections can lead to outbreaks, exercising caution is always recommended.
Incorporate the following Communicable Diseases prevention techniques to avoid getting infected.
Make it a habit to wash your hands after using the bathroom. Also, before and after cooking.
Disinfect your surroundings with frequent attention to spaces more favorable to bacteria. The kitchen and restroom for instance.
Do not keep perishable foods out at room temperature for long hours.
Avoid eating potentially contaminated food.
Take vaccines on time.
Complete the course of medicine (or as recommended) even after symptoms improve.
Try to avoid unprotected sexual intercourse to prevent sexually transmitted infections. Also, get STI checks from time to time.
Do not share personal things like toothbrushes, and drinking cups. Especially with ones who are sick.
Use bug repellents when traveling to places where you are more exposed to mosquito or tick bites. Try to keep yourself covered as well.
Be more responsible while already infected to prevent passing the infection to others. Wearing masks may help.
Pandemics lead to mass destruction. To avoid that, educate yourself and circulate the knowledge among others. That involves learning about Communicable Diseases’ causes, symptoms, and how they spread. And if you are infected, contact your doctor immediately for Communicable Diseases treatment. Together we can restrict pathogens from creating havoc in our lives.
The Author : Dr. Sunil Khattri
Dr. Sunil Khattri MBBS, MS(General Surgery), LLB, is a Medical doctor and is a practicing Advocate in the Supreme Court of India and National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi.