Nip Communicable Diseases In The Bud
Better access to immunization and treatment, improved living standards and an increasing awareness of hygiene and sanitation has led to the decrease in the overall incidence of communicable disease. Yet, communicable diseases still rank high in the list of causes of morbidity and deaths. Broadly speaking, communicable diseases refer to infectious diseases which are transmitted by various routes. Some of the common ways of spreading these infections include:
Through direct respiratory droplets inhaled from infected patients or through fomites (infected droplets on objects which are subsequently transferred to the patient). Common infections transmitted through this route include measles, rubella, tuberculosis, chicken pox, and influenza. A large number of viruses affecting a person cause respiratory infections.
These include diseases which spread through faecal contamination of food or water. Some of the common diseases that spread through this route is typhoid and paratyphoid fevers, hepatitis A and E infections, cholera, bacterial and amoebic dysentery, E.coli infections and viral diarrheal diseases.
Person to person spread which occurs through exposure of skin or mucus membrane contact as with scabies, skin infections with streptococci, staphylococcal wound infections, certain STDs etc.
- Blood or blood products like HIV, hepatitis B, C infections.
- Soil transmission through spores found in soil resulting in tetanus.
Spread from infected animals to humans. Diseases like rabies, salmonellosis, brucellosis, tapeworm infections and leptospirosis are usually transmitted from infected animals to humans.
Parasite And Arthropod Borne Infections
Transmitted through bites of mosquitoes, ticks and mites. Common diseases include malaria, dengue. rickettsial dise ases etc.
Most of these infections are familiar to us. So, depending on their mode of transmission, various preventive measures are recommended:
Preventing Airborne Spread
- Most respiratory diseases can be contained by good hand hygiene. Frequent washing of hands or use of sanitizers prevents infected particles from being transferred by patients themselves or by care givers.
- Isolation of patients suffering from diseases with high communicability like measles, chicken pox, open cases of pulmonary tuberculosis etc. help reduce droplets related transmission in the community.
- Wearing masks or covering the nose and mouth with a cloth while sneezing or coughing is a basic requirement.
- Infected persons should avoid crowded places till recovery.
- Avoid exposure to very small children. those seeking cancer treatment or people who are on immunosuppressive medications.
- Affected individuals should seek prompt treatment and complete medication courses. Taking plenty of warm fluids, avoiding exposure to dust and irritants or extreme cold environments will accelerate recovery.
Preventing Faecal-Oral Spread
- Food hygiene safety measures must be constantly practiced.
- Drink lots of water from a known. clean or purified source.
- Avoid fresh juices unless prepared at home or in a hygienic environment. Water or ice are usually the sources of infections like diarrhoea.
- Avoid semi-cooked or non-cooked foods that are prepared on the roadside, unless the surroundings are hygienic.
- Avoid foods that may not be thoroughly washed or which is left uncovered for a long time. This includes salads that are commonly served at eating joints.
- Hand hygiene of food handlers matters too, especially when food is prepared on a large scale or on the roadside.
Preventing Contact Transmission
- Avoid direct contact with infected wounds or sores unless protected by gloves.
- Wash small wounds or abrasions under running water to clean any infected soil particles which may transmit tetanus spores.
Preventing Animal To Human Spread
- Some of these diseases can be prevented by thorough cooking of meat and poultry, including eggs. Avoid eating raw meat.
- Milk should always be pasteurized. Avoid cheese made from unpasteurized milk.
- Avoid exposure to rabid animals. All animal lovers must immunize their pets.
- Prevent arthropod or parasitic borne infections.
- Use mosquito nets especially in mosquito infested areas. And use mosquito repellents at all times.
- Avoid breeding of mosquitoes by keeping the environment dean without stagnant water.
Immunization Can Set You Free
Child and adult immunizations help in preventing major communicable diseases. The eradication of small pox and the tremendous efforts to eradicate poliomyelitis are all remarkable successes of immunization.
Childhood immunization against measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, tuberculosis, poliomyelitis and hepatitis is highly effective in preventing them. Efforts to develop vaccines against malaria, dengue, and even I-11V is going on and once they are ready a majority of communicable diseases will be prevented.
The prevention of malaria in travelers going to endemic diseased areas by using medications is highly recommended. Another example of chemoprophylaxis (which was successful) was the use of tamiflu (oseltamivir) which was used to prevent H1N1 infection during the initial outbreak a few years ago.
In conclusion, communicable diseases continue to pose a big challenge to mankind but constant efforts from the community and the medical fraternity are needed and are being carried out for effective measures to prevent communicable diseases and to stop their incidence.