What is a communicable disease?
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.
Reporting of cases of communicable disease is important in the planning and evaluation of disease prevention and control programs, in the assurance of appropriate medical therapy, and in the detection of common-source outbreaks. California law mandates healthcare providers and laboratories to report over 80 diseases or conditions to their local health department. Some examples of the reportable communicable diseases include Hepatitis A, B & C, influenza, measles, and salmonella and other food borne illnesses.
How do these communicable diseases spread?
How these diseases spread depends on the specific disease or infectious agent. Some ways in which communicable diseases spread are by:
- physical contact with an infected person, such as through touch (staphylococcus), sexual intercourse (gonorrhea, HIV), fecal/oral transmission (hepatitis A), or droplets (influenza, TB)
- contact with a contaminated surface or object (Norwalk virus), food (salmonella, E. coli), blood (HIV, hepatitis B), or water (cholera);
- bites from insects or animals capable of transmitting the disease (mosquito: malaria and yellow fever; flea: plague); and
- travel through the air, such as tuberculosis or measles.