Communicable Diseases

Team Biology at
Created by: Team Biology at, Last Updated: July 5, 2024

Communicable Diseases

Communicable diseases, also known as infectious diseases, are illnesses caused by pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. These diseases can spread directly from person to person, through contact with contaminated surfaces, or via vectors like mosquitoes. Examples include influenza, tuberculosis, and malaria. Effective prevention and control measures, including vaccination, proper hygiene, and public health interventions, are crucial in reducing the spread and impact of these diseases globally.

What are Communicable Diseases?

Communicable diseases are infectious illnesses caused by pathogens like bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. They spread through direct person-to-person contact, contaminated surfaces, or vectors like mosquitoes. Examples include influenza, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS.

Communicable Diseases Examples

  1. Influenza
  2. Tuberculosis
  3. Malaria
  5. Measles
  6. Chickenpox
  7. Hepatitis A
  8. Hepatitis B
  9. Hepatitis C
  10. Dengue fever
  11. Ebola
  12. Zika virus
  13. Rabies
  14. Cholera
  15. Typhoid fever
  16. Norovirus
  17. Rotavirus
  18. COVID-19
  19. Mumps
  20. Rubella
  21. Whooping cough
  22. Polio
  23. Shigellosis
  24. Syphilis
  25. Gonorrhea
  26. Scabies
  27. Lyme disease

Categories of Communicable Diseases

  1. Bacterial Infections
    • Tuberculosis
    • Cholera
    • Typhoid fever
    • Gonorrhea
  2. Viral Infections
    • Influenza
    • HIV/AIDS
    • Measles
    • Hepatitis B
  3. Parasitic Infections
    • Malaria
    • Giardia
    • Hookworm
    • Leishmaniasis
  4. Fungal Infections
    • Candidiasis
    • Histoplasmosis
    • Ringworm
    • Aspergillosis
  5. Vector-borne Diseases
    • Dengue fever
    • Zika virus
    • Lyme disease
    • West Nile virus
  6. Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
    • Syphilis
    • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
    • Herpes simplex virus (HSV)
    • Chlamydia
  7. Respiratory Infections
    • COVID-19
    • Whooping cough
    • Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
    • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)
  8. Foodborne and Waterborne Infections
    • Norovirus
    • Rotavirus
    • Salmonellosis
    • Shigellosis


  • Fever – Elevated body temperature, often accompanied by chills and sweating.
  • Cough – Persistent or severe coughing, sometimes producing mucus.
  • Fatigue – Extreme tiredness and lack of energy.
  • Diarrhea – Frequent, loose, or watery bowel movements.
  • Rash – Red, itchy, or swollen skin eruptions.
  • Body Aches – Generalized muscle and joint pain.
  • Nausea – Feeling of sickness with an urge to vomit.
  • Headache – Persistent or severe pain in the head.

Common Communicable Diseases

  1. Influenza – A viral infection causing fever, cough, body aches, and fatigue.
  2. Tuberculosis – A bacterial infection primarily affecting the lungs, causing cough, fever, and weight loss.
  3. HIV/AIDS – A viral infection impairing the immune system, leading to opportunistic infections and certain cancers.
  4. Hepatitis B – A viral infection of the liver causing jaundice, fatigue, and abdominal pain.
  5. COVID-19 – A viral respiratory infection causing fever, cough, and shortness of breath.


  1. Microscopic, single-celled organisms causing illnesses like tuberculosis, strep throat, and urinary tract infections.
  2. Infectious agents responsible for diseases such as influenza, HIV/AIDS, and the common cold.
  3. Spore-producing organisms causing infections like athlete’s foot, histoplasmosis, and cryptococcosis.
  4. Organisms that live on or in a host, leading to diseases like malaria, toxoplasmosis, and trichinosis.
  5. Misfolded proteins causing rare, fatal brain disorders like Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and mad cow disease.

How to Prevent Communicable Diseases

  1. Practice Good Hygiene – Wash hands regularly with soap and water, especially before eating and after using the restroom, to protect yourself and maintain a healthy ecosystem.
  2. Vaccination – Stay up-to-date with recommended vaccines to protect against diseases like influenza, measles, and hepatitis.
  3. Safe Food and Water – Ensure food is properly cooked and water is safe to drink to prevent foodborne and waterborne illnesses.
  4. Avoid Close Contact – Limit close contact with sick individuals and maintain social distancing during outbreaks.
  5. Use Protection – Use condoms to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections and use insect repellent to avoid vector-borne diseases.
  6. Maintain Clean Environment – Regularly clean and disinfect surfaces to reduce the spread of pathogens.
  7. Practice Safe Travel – Follow travel advisories, get necessary vaccinations, and avoid areas with known disease outbreaks.
  8. Healthy Lifestyle – Maintain a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and get adequate sleep to strengthen the immune system.
  9. Cover Coughs and Sneezes – Use tissues or the elbow to cover mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing to prevent airborne transmission.
  10. Avoid Sharing Personal Items – Do not share items like toothbrushes, razors, or needles, which can transmit infectious agents.

Treatment for Communicable Diseases

  1. Medication – Use antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals, or antiparasitics as prescribed by a healthcare professional, and consider vitamin D supplements to support immune function and help eliminate specific pathogens.
  2. Supportive Care – Provide fluids, rest, and pain relievers to alleviate symptoms and support the body’s recovery process.
  3. Isolation – Isolate infected individuals to prevent the spread of contagious diseases to others.
  4. Vaccination – Administer vaccines to boost the immune system, prevent further infection, and avoid complications, which can help maintain a stable heart rate in certain diseases.
  5. Follow-up Care – Regularly monitor and follow up with healthcare providers to ensure the infection is fully treated and to manage any potential complications.

Communicable vs Noncommunicable Diseases

FeatureCommunicable DiseasesNoncommunicable Diseases
DefinitionDiseases caused by pathogens and spread from person to person or via vectors.Diseases not caused by infectious agents and not transmissible between individuals.
ExamplesInfluenza, HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria, COVID-19Diabetes, Hypertension, Cancer, Heart Disease, Asthma
CausesBacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, prionsGenetic factors, lifestyle choices, environmental factors
PreventionVaccination, good hygiene, safe food and water, isolationHealthy diet, regular exercise, avoiding tobacco and alcohol, regular health screenings
TreatmentMedication (antibiotics, antivirals), isolation, supportive careMedication, lifestyle changes, surgery, chronic disease management
TransmissionPerson-to-person contact, contaminated surfaces, vectors (mosquitoes, ticks)Not transmissible; influenced by genetic and environmental factors
Impact on Public HealthOften cause outbreaks or epidemics, require immediate public health responseLong-term health management, major contributors to global mortality and morbidity

How do communicable diseases spread?

They spread through direct contact, contaminated surfaces, or vectors like mosquitoes.

What are common examples of communicable diseases?

Examples include influenza, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and COVID-19.

What are the symptoms of communicable diseases?

Symptoms vary but can include fever, cough, fatigue, and body aches.

How can I prevent communicable diseases?

Practice good hygiene, get vaccinated, and avoid close contact with sick individuals.

What is the treatment for communicable diseases?

Treatment involves medication, supportive care, and sometimes isolation.

Can communicable diseases be fatal?

Yes, some communicable diseases can be severe and lead to death if not treated.

What role do vaccines play in preventing communicable diseases?

Vaccines boost the immune system and prevent many communicable diseases.

How are communicable diseases diagnosed?

Diagnosis is made through medical history, physical examination, and laboratory tests.

Are antibiotics effective against all communicable diseases?

No, antibiotics are effective against bacterial infections but not viral or fungal infections.

What is the difference between communicable and noncommunicable diseases?

Communicable diseases are infectious and can spread, while noncommunicable diseases are not contagious.

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