Communicable diseases are highly contagious illnesses passed from person-to-person via respiratory droplets, fluid, mucus, semen, saliva or breast milk. Sneezing, touching a contagious individual or object, drinking contaminated water or having unprotected sexual intercourse can lead to bacterial, fungal, viral or parasitic diseases. Simply washing both hands daily or using a condom can help prevent the spread of communicable diseases.
Tuberculosis is caused by the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria. Sneezing or coughing can spray these bacterial droplets into the air, passing them onto the next victim via inhalation. Tuberculosis can be in either an active or inactive state. According to the Mayo Clinic, active tuberculosis causes manifestations such as unintentional weight loss, fatigue, night sweats, chills, fever and poor appetite. As tuberculosis progresses to the lungs, it can lead to frequent and persistent coughing for three or more weeks, coughing up blood (hemoptysis) and pleuritic chest pain (pain in the chest upon inhalation). Tuberculosis bacteria can spread to the spine, kidneys and brain, so it is important to seek immediate treatment. Inactive tuberculosis stays dormant in the body, where it is noninfectious. The Mayo Clinic says that treatment for active tuberculosis involves a combination of the medications isoniazid, rifampin and pyrazinamide. Inactive tuberculosis is treated with a 9-month course of isoniazid to prevent the inactive bacteria from transforming into its active state.
Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a communicable sexually-transmitted disease that passes among individuals through semen, blood or other bodily fluids. Initially, AIDS begins as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). When certain immune cells in the body reach a specified low point, the disease is called AIDS. MedlinePlus indicates that AIDS symptoms include fever, night sweats, chills, weakness, unintentional weight loss and swollen lymph glands. As these symptoms can mimic a severe bout of the flu, people typically do not realize they have contracted AIDS until they obtain the results of an AIDS test. According to MedlinePlus, AIDS treatment includes taking a combination of antiretroviral medications called a highly active antiretroviral (HAART) that works to block the virus from entering cells. Unfortunately, this is not a cure. It only serves to maintain immune cells at a higher level to prevent serious infections from occurring.
Influenza ("the flu") is another highly infectious communicable disease that passes between persons via respiratory droplets and contact. Shaking an individual's hand laden with the influenza virus allows the disease to pass to its next victim. Sneezing and coughing are also ways in which the influenza virus is passed. The National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases indicates that common influenza manifestations include a high fever, muscle aches, dry cough, fatigue, headaches and a runny nose. Simply resting and drinking plenty of fluids can help manage influenza symptoms, but antiviral medications may be prescribed if influenza worsens or persists for more than one week.