A communicable disease is one that is spread from one person to another through a variety of ways that include: contact with blood and bodily fluids; breathing in an airborne virus; or by being bitten by an insect. Communicable diseases may be classified according to the causative agent, the clinical illness caused, or the means of transmission. Often all three characteristics are used (e.g., food-borne Salmonella gastroenteritis). Causative agents include bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Examples of bacterial diseases include pneumococcal pneumonia and gonorrhea. Viral diseases include influenza, measles, and ebola. Parasitic diseases include malaria and schistosomiasis. Other communicable diseases may be caused by other types of microorganisms such as fungi (e.g., histoplasmosis). The types of illness include pneumonia, diarrhea, meningitis, or other clinical syndromes. Communicable diseases affect both individuals and communities, so control efforts may be directed at both. Treatment of persons with communicable diseases with antibiotics typically kills the agent and renders them noninfectious. Thus, treatment is also prevention. A simple way to prevent the occurrence of communicable diseases is to eliminate the infectious agent through, for example, cooking food, washing hands, and sterilizing surgical instruments between uses. Assuring the safety of drinking water through filtration and chlorination and treating sewage appropriately are other important means of preventing the spread of communicable diseases.
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