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Cold and Flu Center

List of Air Borne Diseases

author image Lisabetta DiVita
Lisabetta Divita is a physician whose love for writing flourished while she was exposed to all facets of the medical field during her training. Her writings are currently featured in prominent medical magazines and various online publications. She holds a doctorate in medicine, a master's in biomedicine, and a Bachelor of Science in biology from Boston College.
List of Air Borne Diseases
List of Air Borne Diseases Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

A disease is classified as airborne when respiratory droplets from one person can easily contaminate the next person. Viruses, bacteria and fungus may be to blame for causing such diseases. Airborne transmission happens when the bacteria or virus travel on respiratory droplets or dust. Simply washing the hands and covering the mouth when sneezing can decrease the prevalence of contracting an airborne disease.

Pulmonary Tuberculosis

Pulmonary tuberculosis is an airborne disease that affects 10 people out of every 100,000 people in the United States, says MedlinePlus. This disease occurs when a person inhales infected respiratory droplets.

Symptoms of pulmonary tuberculosis include coughing up blood or phlegm, excessive night sweats, fever, weight loss and tiredness. This disease can also lead to chest pain, wheezing and problems breathing.

The exact cause for pulmonary tuberculosis is the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria. MedlinePlus says that the elderly, infants and those people with a weakened immune systems have a risk for getting tuberculosis.

Treatment for pulmonary tuberculosis involves taking antibiotic medications such as isoniazid or rifampin to eliminate the bacteria. This treatment may be for more than six months, depending upon the severity of the tuberculosis.

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H1N1 Flu

The H1N1 flu, commonly called the swine flu, is another airborne disease passed via respiratory droplets. The H1N1 flu became a household name in the spring of 2009 when an epidemic of this type of flu arose.

Specific H1N1 flu symptoms include a fever, diarrhea, chills, a sore throat, a headache, body aches and fatigue, according to the Mayo Clinic. Other flu symptoms include a cough and vomiting. Typically, these symptoms develop after three to five days of initial exposure. This flu may last for about eight days.

Specifically, the H1N1 influenza viruses causes this type of flu.

Typically, healthy persons do not require treatment other than supportive medications found at the local pharmacy. However, antiviral medications such as oseltamivir and zanamavir may be prescribed to fight off the viral infection. Usually, pregnant women, AIDS or HIV sufferers, children younger than five years of age and those with chronic medical conditions such as asthma are considered high-risk groups that may benefit from the aforementioned medications.

Pneumonia, respiratory arrest (stop breathing) and exacerbation of diseases such as asthma may result if the H1N1 flu is not treated.


Measles is a very contagious disease that spreads via contact with droplets from an infected person, states MedlinePlus. Specific symptoms of the measles includes a cough, fever, muscle pain, light sensitivity and a rash. This rash can reveal itself three to five days after showing the aforementioned symptoms and can last for as long as seven days. Specifically, this rash is red, flat, itchy and raised in some places on the skin. Other measles symptoms include a runny nose, a sore throat, redness of the eyes and small white spots on the inside of the mouth (Koplik spots).

No specific treatment exists for the measles, but resting, using a humidifier and taking acetaminophen may be beneficial in managing the symptoms.

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