Communicable Diseases

Communicable diseases spread from one person to another by the entry of pathogens (disease causing organisms). Pathogens enter our body through various means, and then multiply there. They can be transferred from one person to another by direct or indirect contact.

1. Amoebiasis

Caused by: Entamoeba histolytica a protozoan parasite infecting large intestine

Transmission: by air; by house fly and cockroaches that may carry the pathogen from the infected person’s stool to food/water and thereby contaminate it.

Symptoms: Abdominal pain, constipation, cramps, stools with mucous and blood.

Prevention:

  • Washing hands before eating and after defecation.
  • Proper sanitary disposal faecal matter.
  • Personal hygiene
  • Washing fruits and vegetables before eating.

Treatment:

Antibiotics (on doctors prescription).

2. Ascariasis

Caused by: Ascaris lumbricoides (round worm). That resides in the small intestine.

Transmission: Eggs of the parasite come out along with the faeces of the infected person and contaminate soil, water, plants etc. A healthy person gets infected in the same manner as he or she gets infected for amoebiasis.

Symptoms: Muscular pain, internal bleeding, impaired digestion, colic pain and blockage of intestinal passage. In children, may lead to retarded physical and mental growth.

Prevention:

  • Same as Amoebiasis

Treatment:

  • Antihelminthic drugs (doctor’s prescription).

3. Malaria

Caused by: Plasmodium. It complete its lifecycle in two hosts, human and mosquito.

Transmission: By the bite of an infected female Anopheles mosquito. Malarial parasites multiply within the red blood corpuscles (RBCs) of human blood and increase to enormous numbers. So the RBCs rupture and the toxin produced by the parasite is released in the blood.

Symptoms:

  • Shivering and high fever which occurs at regular intervals accompanied by headache and nausea.
  • Fever may last for 6-10 hrs. After the fever sweating starts and the temperature falls.

Prevention:

  • Eradication of mosquitoes and their larvae by use of kerosene/larvae eating fish.
  • Don’t allow water to accumulate in the surrounding areas.
  • Sleep under mosquito nets.
  • Use mosquito repellents at night.
  • Cover doors and windows with wire mesh.

Treatment:

  • Anti malarial drugs (on doctor’s prescription)

4. Filariasis / Elephantiasis

Caused by: Wuchereria bancrofti, another worm similar to Ascaris.

Transmission: Bite of the female Culex mosquito.

Symptoms: Fever in the initial days, the parasites reside in the lymph vessels and cause chronic inflammation of the organs, specially in lower limbs resulting in enormous swelling of the limbs.

Prevention:

  • Same as Malaria.

Treatment:

  • Medicines on doctor’s prescription

5. Dengue fever (break bone fever)

Caused by: A virus

Transmission: by the bite of a female mosquito Aedes.

Symptoms:

  • Abrupt high fever
  • Severe headache and pain behind the eye muscles and joints, loss of appetite, rashes over chest and upper limbs.
  • Symptoms may turn into haemorrhagic fever causing bleeding from mouth, gums and skin.
  • Burning mouth, severe stomach pain and frequent vomiting with or without bleeding.

Prevention:

  • Same as malaria and filariasis.

Treatment: Doctor to be consulted. Mosquito is active during day time and breeds in fresh water. Therefore clothes which cover the arms and legs protect from during day time.

6. Influenza (flu)

Caused by: A viral infection of the respiratory tract.

Transmission: through direct or indirect contact including infected droplets. These viruses mutate all the time and as a result different strains of influenza virus exist. Our immune system needs to fight each new strain in order to provide protection against the virus.

Symptoms: Fever (100°F to 103°F), sore throat, cough, sneezing, running nose, headache, body pain, fatigue.

Prevention:

  • The infected person should cover their mouth and nose when they cough or sneeze.
  • The infected person should avoid public places.
  • Vaccination.

Treatment:

  • Patients should take plenty of fluids.
  • Medicine prescribed by the physician.

7. Tuberculosis (T.B.)

Caused by: Bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculi. It affects bones, lymph node and most frequently the lungs.

Transmission: Transmitted by inhaling droplets of patients present in their sputum, cough and sneeze. Requires prolonged contact with the patient and therefore is common in crowded and poor living conditions.

Symptoms: 

  • Persistent low grade fever and cough.
  • Blood in sputum.
  • Weight loss, chest pain, excessive fatigue, night sweating, poor appetite.

Prevention:

  • BCG vaccine at birth.
  • Patient suffering from T.B. should be kept isolated and given proper medication.
  • Clothes and utensils used by TB patient should be regularly disinfected.

Treatment:

Regular course of antibiotics as prescribed by the doctor. Treatment is for 6-8 months.