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Examples of Communicable Diseases

By Norene Anderson ; Updated August 14, 2017

A communicable disease is any bacterial or viral condition or illness that one person gets from another. Methods of disease transfer depend on the type of illness and include inhaling airborne contaminants from an infected person coughing or sneezing, transfer of infected fecal material from hand to mouth and direct contact with infected individuals, such as through kissing.

Meningitis

Meningitis is the inflammation of the meninges (membranes) that surround the spinal cord and brain. Of the two types of meningitis, viral and bacterial, bacterial is the more severe, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Viral meningitis requires no specific treatment, but bacterial meningitis requires immediate antibiotic intervention. The type of bacteria causing the meningitis determines the antibiotic regimen for treatment. Possible complications of bacterial meningitis include brain damage and learning disabilities. Meningitis spreads from person to person through direct contact of respiratory secretions.

Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease

The Cleveland Clinic reports that hand-foot-mouth disease (not to be confused with foot-and-mouth disease that affects cattle) manifests with symptoms of fever, sore throat and runny nose. It is most common in infants and children up to 10 years of age, notes the Cleveland Clinic. The Coxsackie virus is the prevalent cause of hand-foot-mouth disease, with the spread occurring through direct contact with the stool or mucous of the infected person. The contagious period lasts through the first week or until the disappearance of the rash. Treatment includes comfort measures for the symptoms.

Shigellosis

MedlinePlus reports that there are different types of the Shigella bacteria. Group D and group B account for the majority of the 18,000 cases in the United States every year. The bacteria live in the intestine and spread through direct contact with an infected stool. Symptoms require an average of three days to develop after contact with the bacteria. The use of antibiotics, such as ampicillin, azithromycin or ciprofloxacin, reduces the duration of shigellosis. Symptoms requiring immediate medical attention include seizures, confusion, lethargy and headache with a stiff neck.

Influenza

KidsHealth.org reports that influenza, a highly contagious respiratory viral infection, is most prevalent from November to April. Symptoms of influenza, or "the flu," include cough, sore throat, fever, headache, chills, muscle aches, runny nose, dizziness and cough. Some types of influenza present with nausea or vomiting. The contagious period ranges from a day prior to any symptoms through one to two weeks, until symptoms go away. Influenza spreads by contact with the virus-infected particles sneezed or coughed into the air.

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