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5 Communicable Diseases

By Melissa Angela ; Updated August 14, 2017

The World Health Organization reports that microorganisms such as a bacteria, fungi, parasites or viruses cause infectious diseases which have the ability to spread from one person to another. Understanding risk factors, modes of transmission and ways to prevent communicable diseases is important to keep yourself healthy.


According to the National Prevention Information Network (NPIN), tuberculosis (TB) causes nearly 2 million deaths worldwide each year. A bacteria, mycobacterium tuberculosis, causes TB. It can affect different organs of the body, but primarily affects the lungs. When someone has active tuberculosis of the lungs, he can transmit it through respiratory droplets. Immunocompromised individuals, individuals coming from countries that have high TB rates, or persons who have been in contact with persons with TB should talk to their doctors about getting screened for TB. The symptoms of pulmonary TB include coughing, night sweats, fevers, lethargy and weight loss.


Modes of transmission for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) include sexual contact and sharing needles, or from a mother to infant during labor or through breast milk. HIV attacks the immune system and can develop into acquired immune deficiency virus (AIDS). When the immune system breaks down because of HIV, opportunistic infections or certain cancers can affect the individual. The CDC reports that there were 37,041 persons diagnosed with AIDS in the U.S. in 2007. Prevention measures for HIV include using condoms during sex, not sharing needles while injecting drugs, getting treatment if you are HIV positive during pregnancy, and not breastfeeding if indicated.


The NPIN estimates that over 2 million persons between the ages of 14 and 39 in the U.S. are infected with chlamydia. Many persons do not have symptoms, though if they do, they may have a vaginal discharge or discharge from the penis, or pain with urination or with sex. Sexually transmitted diseases can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease in females which can lead to fertility problems in the future. Sexually active persons should use condoms to help prevent chlamydia.

Hepatitis A

Different viruses cause hepatitis or an inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis A is an acute illness. Transmission risks include contact with feces from contaminated food or water, or contact with another person during activities like changing diapers. Prevention of hepatitis A includes getting a vaccine if you are at risk, hand washing if you are preparing food, washing hands after coming in contact with feces, and avoiding contaminated water.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B, at first an acute illness, can develop into cirrhosis or liver cancer. Transmission methods include contact with blood of an infected person through sharing needles, personal items, sexual contact or childbirth. Transmission occurs through puncture of the skin or mucosal contact with infected blood and bodily fluid. Prevention of hepatitis B includes getting a vaccine if you have a risk for hepatitis B, not sharing needles, not sharing personal items and using condoms during sex.

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