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How to Prevent Communicable Diseases

Communicable diseases are contagious infections in the body that can spread from person to person. Examples of communicable diseases include colds, chicken pox, ring worm, meningitis, hepatitis and HIV/AIDS, according to the ARCH National Resource Center for Respite and Crisis Care Services. Communicable diseases are spread through the air, urine and feces, blood, saliva and skin. For example, colds and chicken pox are most often spread through sneezes and coughs, whereas some forms of hepatitis and HIV/AIDS are transmitted through blood. Preventing the spread of communicable diseases will help keep you and your family safe and healthy.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Consult your primary care physician to ensure that all children and adults in your family are up-to-date on immunizations. If not, schedule the appropriate appointments to receive the needed shots. If you don't have a primary care physician, contact your local health clinic 1.

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Wash your hands often, including after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, before and after eating, after sneezing or blowing your nose and after playing with a pet. Use antibacterial soap and warm to hot water, and wash your hands and exposed areas of your arm vigorously for at least 20 seconds.

Follow food safety rules and use food thermometers to make sure red meat and other foods are cooked to the proper temperature. Wash foods, such as apples and potatoes, before eating and avoid leaving food at room temperature in order to prevent bacteria from growing.

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Follow safe sex practices. Use a condom every time, in conjunction with a spermicidal foam or gel. Know your sex partners and be honest about your sexual histories.

Avoid sharing personal items such as brushes, toothbrushes and combs. Do not drink out of others’ cups or share eating utensils 1.

Cover open sores and wounds with a bandage and antibacterial gel. Wash your hands before and after handling the wound.

Remain healthy by following a nutritious diet, exercising regularly and getting plenty of rest. A healthy immune system will aid in preventing the spread of communicable diseases.


Infectious diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide and among children, accounting for more than 17 million deaths each year, according to the Virginia Department of Health. However, frequent handwashing is a leading method for avoiding getting sick and spreading communicable diseases.