Infectious diseases happen when microorganisms, namely parasites, viruses, bacteria or fungi, multiply in the body and cause damage to the tissues. Although many microorganisms dwell on or in human bodies that are harmless, some of these organisms can cause disease under particular circumstances.
Many infectious diseases are contagious and can spread from one person to another. Some diseases spread through bites from animals or insects, while others spread through consuming contaminated food or water or being exposed to organisms found in the environment.
At HCG, we have infectious diseases specialists, who are trained in managing a broad spectrum of infectious diseases with evidence-based treatment approaches.
Modes of Disease Transmission
Direct contact: Direct contact with an infected person or animal is one of the most common routes for most infectious diseases to spread. Infectious diseases can transmit through direct touch in three different ways:
- 1. From Person to Person: When an infected person touches, kisses, coughs, or sneezes on someone who is not infected, infectious diseases can be transmitted directly. Sexual intercourse can potentially spread these microorganisms through the exchange of body fluids. The person who has the infection may or may not exhibit signs of the sickness or could just be a carrier, too.
- 2. Animal to Person: An individual can contract an infectious disease if bitten or scratched by an infected animal. Furthermore, handling animal waste also poses an increased infection risk.
- 3. Mother to Unborn Child: In a few cases, a pregnant mother might transmit infectious diseases to her unborn child.
Indirect Contact: Indirect contact can also cause the transmission of several disease-causing pathogens. For instance, pathogens present on inanimate items, such as table surfaces, doorknobs, and even faucet handles, can cause infectious diseases.
Insect Bites: Certain infectious diseases are transmitted through insect carriers, namely mosquitoes, lice, fleas and ticks.
Food Contamination: Another significant route for infectious diseases to spread is through the consumption of contaminated food and water.
Treatment for Infectious Diseases
There are different classes of drugs available for the successful management of infectious diseases:
- Antibiotics: Antibiotics are generally administered for the treatment of bacterial infections.
- Antivirals: As the name says, antiviral drugs are recommended for the management of infectious diseases caused due to viruses.
- Antifungals: Fungal infections are treated both by topical and oral medications. A few skin and nail infections caused due to fungi are treated with antifungal creams. Fungal infections of lungs, mucous membrane or other vital organs, on the other hand, are treated with oral antifungal medications.
- Antiparasitics: Antiparasitics are recommended to treat the infections caused due to parasites.
Although many common infections may be managed by internists, inputs from infectious diseases specialists may be sought for the following:
- An infection that is difficult to diagnose
- Management of complex infections caused by bacteria, fungi, viruses or parasites
- Travel advice to those who are visiting a foreign location where infection risk is higher
- Patients with HIV/ AIDS
- Infections in post solid organ transplant/ pot bone marrow transplant patients
- ID specialists are also involved in infection control, antibiotic stewardship, surveillance and management of healthcare-associated infections.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Are all infectious diseases communicable?
The term ‘communicable disease’ does not apply to all infectious diseases. Communicable diseases can be transmitted by close or prolonged contact with individuals who already have the disease, regardless of how they caught it. The common cold and influenza are two common examples of communicable diseases.
2. Who is more likely to get infectious diseases?
Various factors can increase one’s risk of developing infectious diseases. Following are the few important factors that can contribute to one’s risk of developing infections:
- Those individuals who are on immunosuppressants have an increased risk of infectious diseases due to compromised immunity.
- The risk of infectious diseases is high among those diagnosed with immunocompromised conditions, such as HIV or AIDS.
- Those with specific types of cancer are also at an increased risk of contracting infectious diseases.
- Those having medical conditions, namely malnutrition, age extremes, etc., that predispose them to infections are vulnerable too.
3. How can I prevent infectious diseases?
There are several measures that you can take to prevent your risk of contracting infectious diseases:
- Receive immunisations against infectious diseases
- Regularly wash or sanitise your hands
- Always cover while coughing and sneezing
- Ensure your home is properly ventilated
- Keep your home clean and disinfected
- Ensure the vegetables and fruits are clean before your consume; prepare means in a safe and hygienic way
- If you are unwell; stay at home and avoid meeting people
- Practise safe sex