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Communicable Disease

What is a communicable disease?

A communicable disease is a disease that spreads from one person to another, or from an animal, surface, or food to a person. They may also be referred to as transmissible or infectious diseases.

Disease-causing agents can include pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, protozoa, and prions. How these pathogens spread may vary, but some methods of transmission include:

  • Contact with a contaminated object or surface, food, blood, or water
  • Physical contact with an infected person through touch, sexual intercourse, droplets, or fecal/oral transmission
  • Breathing in an airborne virus
  • Bites from animals or insects

Some common examples of communicable diseases include:

  • COVID-19
  • Influenza
  • Malaria
  • Salmonella
  • HIV
  • Tuberculosis
  • Staphylococcus
  • Measles
  • Hepatitis B
  • Sexually transmitted diseases

The severity of the communicable disease varies, with some causing no symptoms while others can be severe and fatal.

Why is reporting communicable diseases important to healthcare?

Since communicable diseases can quickly spread to other individuals, reporting incidences is crucial for planning and evaluating disease prevention and protecting healthcare staff and other patients from outbreaks.