Communicable diseases, also known as infectious diseases or transmissible diseases, are illnesses that result from the infection, presence and growth of pathogenic (capable of causing disease) biologic agents in an individual human or other animal host. Infections may range in severity from asymptomatic (without symptoms) to severe and fatal. The term infection does not have the same meaning as infectious disease because some infections do not cause illness in a host.
Disease causing biologic agents include viruses, bacteria, fungi, protozoa, multicellular parasites, and aberrant proteins known as prions. Transmission of these biologic agents can occur in a variety of ways, including direct physical contact with an infectious person, consuming contaminated foods or beverages, contact with contaminated body fluids, contact with contaminated inanimate objects, airborne (inhalation), or being bitten by an infected insect or tick. Some disease agents can be transmitted from animals to humans, and some of these agents can be transmitted in more than one way.
Most Communicable diseases can be prevented by following the steps listed below:
- Hand washing: Wash hands with soap and warm water frequently, especially after using the restroom. Give children enough time to properly wash their hands. (single most important factor)
- Stay home when ill: Strongly suggest that ill children and staff stay home when ill. Avoid close contact with others during the infectious period. Consult with your physician or MCHD for guidance.
- Education: Be informed about signs, symptoms and prevention of diseases. Share information with students and parents. Learning how diseases are transmitted can help to actively prevent the spread of disease.
- Disinfect surfaces: Clean and disinfect surfaces or objects. Focus especially on frequently touched surfaces at home, work and school.
- Vaccinate: Be sure to check immunization status of children for those diseases that can be prevented with vaccines.
- Seek care: Visit your health care provider when ill to get diagnosed and treated properly.
Macon County Health Department recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease. While there are many different flu viruses, the flu vaccine protects against the three main flu strains that research indicates will cause the most illness during the flu season. The vaccine can protect you from getting sick from these three viruses or it can make your illness milder if you get a different flu virus.
If you do get the flu, antiviral drugs are an important treatment option. Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaler) that fight against the flu by keeping flu viruses from reproducing in your body. Antiviral drugs can make your illness milder and make you feel better faster. They may also prevent serious flu complications. This could be especially important for people at high risk. For treatment, antiviral drugs work best if started soon after getting sick (within 2 days of symptoms).CDC Flu
Norovirus (Stomach Flu)
Noroviruses are the most common of the viruses that cause gastroenteritis. The usual symptoms of gastroenteritis include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and stomach pain. There is no specific treatment for this illness and most individuals recover in 1 to 3 days. The illness can last longer and be more severe in young children, older persons, or persons who have other health conditions.
The virus is highly contagious and can spread rapidly. A person can become ill by ingesting the virus from contaminated food or water or by close contact with someone who is ill. Touching surfaces or objects that are contaminated with norovirus, and then transferring the virus hand to mouth is another common way of becoming infected.
The best way to protect yourself from norovirus is to follow the prevention tips above, as no vaccine can prevent this illness at this time. Drinking plenty of water is very important with all diarrheal illnesses due to the fluid loss that occurs while ill.CDC Norovirus
The head louse, or Pediculus humanus capitis, is a parasitic insect that can be found on the head, eyebrows, and eyelashes of people. Head lice feed on human blood several times a day and live close to the human scalp. Head lice infest the head and neck and attach their eggs to the base of the hair shaft. Lice move by crawling; they cannot hop or fly. Head lice are not known to spread disease.
There are three forms: the egg (nit), the nymph, and the adult.
- Egg/Nit is usually found at the base of the hair shaft nearest to the scalp. They are firmly attached and are oval shaped and very small. Their color is usually yellow or white. Head lice nits usually take 8-9 days to hatch.
- Nymph is an immature (young) louse that hatches from the nit. It looks like an adult head louse, but is smaller.
- Adult head lice are roughly 2–3 mm long which is about the size of a sesame seed and it has 6 legs, and is tan to grayish-white in color. An adult head louse can live about 30 days on a person’s head but will die within one or two days if it falls off a person. Adult female head lice are usually larger than males and can lay about six eggs each day.
How is it spread?
- Head lice infestation, or pediculosis, is spread most commonly by close person-to-person contact.
- Although uncommon, head lice can be spread by sharing clothing or belongings. This happens when lice crawl, or nits attached to shed hair hatch, and get on the shared clothing or belongings.
- Sharing clothing (hats, scarves, coats, sports uniforms) or articles (hair ribbons, barrettes, combs, brushes, towels, stuffed animals) recently worn or used by an infected person:
- Or lying on a bed, couch, pillow, or carpet that has recently been in contact with an infested person.
- Dogs, cats, and other pets do NOT play a role in the transmission of human lice.