Last updated on October 20th, 2022 at 07:46 am
Pathogenic microorganisms cause infectious diseases such as bacteria, viruses, parasites or fungi; the diseases can spread, directly or indirectly, from one person to another.
Zoonotic diseases are infectious diseases of animals that can cause disease when transmitted to humans.
In order to prevent infectious diseases from spreading, we must first understand them. This list contains everything you need to know about infectious diseases.
What is Infectious Disease?
Quick Jump Table
Infectious diseases can be caused by many pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites that may cause illness and disease. For humans, the transmission of pathogens may occur in a variety of ways: spread from person-to-person by direct contact, water or food-borne illness, or aerosolization of infected particles in the environment and through insects (mosquitoes) and ticks. Signs and symptoms and treatment of infectious diseases depend on the host and the pathogen.
Who is at Risk of Getting Infectious Disease?
Anyone can get an infectious disease. People with a compromised immune system (an immune system that doesn’t work at full strength) have greater risk for certain types of infections. Those at higher risk include:
- People with suppressed immune systems, such as those going through cancer treatment or who have recently had an organ transplant
- Those who are unvaccinated against common infectious diseases
- Healthcare workers
- People traveling to at-risk areas where they may be exposed to mosquitoes that carry pathogens such as malaria, dengue virus, and Zika viruses.
What Causes an Infectious Disease?
- Viruses are tiny infectious agents that replicate only in the living cells of other organisms.
- Viruses have a very simple structure comprising genetic material as DNA or RNA within a protein capsule.
- They can infect many life forms, from animals to plants and bacteria to amoebae
- Viruses can be spread, including
- From plant to plant by insects that feed on plant sap. For example, Potato virus Y which is spread by aphids.
- From animal to animal by blood-sucking insects. For example, the Dengue virus is spread by mosquitos.
- Spread by aerosols (through coughing and sneezing). For example, the influenza virus.
- Spread by not washing hands after going to the toilet. For example, norovirus or rotavirus.
- Spread by sexual contact. For example, HIV and Human Papillomavirus (HPV).
- Spread by exposure to infected blood. For example, Hepatitis B.
- Viruses can often be prevented through vaccines
- Bacteria are single-celled microorganisms.
- They come in many shapes, including ball, rod, and spiral-shaped.
- Most bacteria are not harmful and some are actually beneficial. Less than one percent of bacteria will actually make you ill.
- Infectious bacteria can grow, divide, and spread in the body, leading to infectious diseases.
- Some infectious bacteria give off toxins which can make some diseases more severe.
- Bacteria are spread, including
- Spread by aerosols (through coughing and sneezing). For example, Streptococcus.
- Spread by surface and skin contact. For example, Staphylococcus aureus, including MRSA.
- Spread through body fluids, such as blood and saliva. For example, meningococcal disease (meningitis).
- Antibiotics are usually given to treat severe bacterial infections.
- Antibiotic resistance in bacteria is a significant problem.
- Fungi are microorganisms characterized by cell walls made from a substance called chitin.
- Most fungi are harmless to humans and some are edible.
- Other fungi can be infectious and may lead to life-threatening diseases.
- Fungi reproduce by releasing spores that can be picked up by direct contact or even inhaled.
- Fungal infections often affect the lungs, skin, or nails. Some infections may also penetrate the body to affect organs and cause whole-body infections.
- Examples of fungal infections include;
- Athlete’s foot: itching, scaling or cracking of the skin
- Ringworm: reddish, itchy, scaly rash usually on the skin and scalp
- Thrush: caused by the fungus Candida albicans which can infect the mouth, vagina, stomach, and urinary tract.
- Parasites are organisms that live in or on another organism and benefit by getting nutrients at the expense of their host.
- Parasites can be found in many body sites, for example in the blood, liver, digestive system, brain, and even the eyes.
- There are several groups of parasites that infect humans;
- Roundworms: these are nematode worms that can get into humans by ingestion, directly penetrating the skin or through insect bites.Examples: whipworm (ingested), hookworms (directly penetrate the skin), Wuchereria bancrofti (transmitted by mosquitos)
- Protozoa: these are single-celled parasites. Many are delivered by biting insects or are ingested with contaminated water or food. They invade or eat host cells, or swim around the bloodstream and quickly reproduce by copying themselves.
- Examples: Giardia (ingested), Plasmodium falciparum (causes malaria and is transmitted by mosquitos), Trichomonas (sexually transmitted)
- Tapeworms: these are flatworms whose heads hook on to the intestinal wall of their host. Their larvae migrate to other parts of the body. They can live in the host for decades.
- Example: Pork tapeworm
- Flukes: blood flukes are flatworms that are caught through contact with contaminated water. Blood fluke larvae are released from infected snails into freshwater. Liver flukes can be found in undercooked fish or water plants and can live in the host’s body for decades.
- Example: Schistosomes (blood flukes).
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Infectious Diseases List
There are many types of infectious diseases out there. This list contains information about some of the most common ones.
- Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM)
- Carbapenem-resistant Infection (CRE/CRPA)
- Chikungunya Virus Infection (Chikungunya)
- Ciguatera (Harmful Algae Blooms) HABs
- Clostridium Difficile Infection
- Clostridium Perfringens (Epsilon Toxin)
- Coccidioidomycosis fungal infection (Valley fever)
- COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019)
- Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease, transmissible spongiform encephalopathy
- Cryptosporidiosis (Crypto)
- Dengue (Dengue Fever)
- E. coli infection, Shiga toxin-producing (STEC)
- Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE)
- Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever (Ebola)
- Encephalitis, Arboviral or parainfectious
- Enterovirus Infection, Non-Polio (Non-Polio Enterovirus)
- Enterovirus Infection, D68 (EV-D68)
- Giardiasis (Giardia)
- Gonococcal Infection (Gonorrhea)
- Granuloma inguinale
- Haemophilus Influenza disease, Type B (Hib or H-flu)
- Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS)
- Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS)
- Hepatitis A (Hep A)
- Hepatitis B (Hep B)
- Hepatitis C (Hep C)
- Hepatitis D (Hep D)
- Hepatitis E (Hep E)
- Herpes Zoster, zoster VZV (Shingles)
- Histoplasmosis infection (Histoplasmosis)
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus/AIDS (HIV/AIDS)
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
- Influenza (Flu)
- Lead Poisoning
- Legionellosis (Legionnaires Disease)
- Leprosy (Hansens Disease)
- Listeriosis (Listeria)
- Lyme Disease
- Lymphogranuloma venereum infection
- Meningitis, Viral (Meningitis, viral)
- Meningococcal Disease, Bacterial (Meningitis, bacterial)
- Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV)
- Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C)
- Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning, Ciguatera)
- Pediculosis (Lice, Head and Body Lice)
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
- Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
- Plague; Bubonic, Septicemic, Pneumonic (Plague)
- Pneumococcal Disease (Pneumonia)
- Poliomyelitis (Polio)
- Psittacosis (Parrot Fever)
- Pthiriasis (Crabs; Pubic Lice Infestation)
- Pustular Rash diseases (Smallpox, monkeypox, cowpox)
- Ricin Poisoning
- Rickettsiosis (Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever)
- Rubella, Including congenital (German Measles)
- Salmonellosis gastroenteritis (Salmonella)
- Scabies Infestation (Scabies)
- Septic Shock (Sepsis)
- Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)
- Shigellosis gastroenteritis (Shigella)
- Staphylococcal Infection, Methicillin-resistant (MRSA)
- Staphylococcal Food Poisoning, Enterotoxin – B Poisoning (Staph Food Poisoning)
- Staphylococcal Infection, Vancomycin Intermediate (VISA)
- Staphylococcal Infection, Vancomycin-Resistant (VRSA)
- Streptococcal Disease, Group A (invasive) (Strep A (invasive))
- Streptococcal Disease, Group B (Strep-B)
- Streptococcal Toxic-Shock Syndrome, STSS, Toxic Shock (STSS, TSS)
- Syphilis, primary, secondary, early latent, late latent, congenital
- Tetanus Infection, tetani (Lock Jaw)
- Trichomoniasis (Trichomonas infection)
- Trichonosis Infection (Trichinosis)
- Tuberculosis (TB)
- Tuberculosis (Latent)
- Tularemia (Rabbit fever)
- Typhoid Fever, Group D
- Vaginosis, bacterial (Yeast Infection)
- Vaping-Associated Lung Injury (e-Cigarette Associated Lung Injury)
- Varicella (Chickenpox)
- Vibrio cholerae (Cholera)
- Vibriosis (Vibrio)
- Viral Hemorrhagic Fever (Ebola, Lassa, Marburg)
- West Nile Virus
- Yellow Fever
- Yersenia (Yersinia)
- Zika Virus Infection (Zika)
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