What are Infectious Diseases?
Diseases caused by microbes like bacteria, virus, fungi or parasites residing in our bodies or enter our bodies from external agents. They can be transmitted from person to person, hence also called Transmissible or communicable diseases.
Infectious disease causes
Some of the causes of infectious diseases are:
- Bacteria: cause diseases like strep throat, urinary tract infections and tuberculosis.
- Virus: are smaller than bacteria but cause more diseases ranging from a common cold to AIDS.
- Fungi: cause many skin diseases like ringworm, athlete’s foot etc. and some cause infections in lungs or nervous system.
- Parasites: are transmitted to humans either through animal faeces or insect-bites, causing malaria etc.
The different transmission methods of infectious diseases are:
- Direct Contact: with an infected person or animal is the easiest method and they can be through:
- Person to Person:
Most common transmission method and usually occurs when the infected person touches, kisses, coughs or sneezes on an uninfected person.The germs can also spread through exchange of body-fluids through sexual contact. Sometimes, the person who is transmitting might just be a carrier and not infected.
- Animal to Person:Interacting with an infected animal, getting bitten or scratched by it can spread infectious diseases. Handling of animal waste without proper protection can lead to diseases like Toxoplasmosis.
- Mother to Unborn Child : A pregnant mother can pass germs that cause infectious diseases to her unborn baby either through the placenta or through the vagina during birth.
- Indirect Contact : Infected patients can transmit through objects like the doorknob, tabletop, faucet handle etc. by just touching and the germs remaining on these objects. It is always recommended to wash your hands before touching your eyes, mouth or nose to prevent infection.
- Insect Bites : Insect carriers like mosquitoes, lice, ticks and fleas can transmit germs from host to host through their bites. Mosquitoes carry malaria virus, West Nile virus, Dengue etc., while deer ticks carry Lyme disease bacteria.
- Food Contamination : Contaminated food and water are another transmission method of diseases. E.Coli is present in undercooked burgers, unwashed leafy vegetables like spinach, lettuce etc.
Infectious disease symptoms
Bacterial and viral infections usually have the same kind of symptoms and it is difficult to distinguish. Some of the common symptoms include:
Infectious or Bacterial disease diagnosis
Many of the infectious diseases show similar symptoms and the following diagnostic tests can confirm the right disease:
- Laboratory Tests: is conducted on the following patient’s body fluids to get evidence of the particular microbe causing the disease:
- Blood Tests: blood from the vein of the arm is taken.
- Urine Tests: patient is asked to urinate into a container.
- Throat Swabs: sterile swab is used to get samples from the throat.
- Stool Sample: stool sample is collected for parasites and other microbes
- Spinal Tap: cerebrospinal fluid sample taken through needles.
- Imaging Scans:
Imaging procedures like X-rays, CT scan and MRI scans can help spot the diagnoses and rule out other conditions.
- Biopsies: a tiny tissue sample is taken from an internal organ for testing.
Infectious disease treatment
The doctor will recommend the appropriate treatments depending on the disease-causing microorganisms.
- Antibiotics: are usually used for bacterial infections.
- Antivirals: are medications specifically for viruses since antibiotics cannot treat viruses like: HIV, Hepatitis B&C, Herpes etc.
- Antifungals: helps to treat fungal infections on skin or nails.
- Anti-parasitic: helps to treat diseases like malaria caused by parasites.
Infectious disease prevention
Adopting the following preventive measures can help prevent infections:
- Wearing masks
- Usage of antiseptics,
You can always consult our doctors for further confirmation regarding your illness.
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