There are four main kinds of germs that cause infectious diseases. Bacteria are single-cell germs that have the ability to multiply rapidly and release chemicals that will make you sick. Viruses are capsules containing genetic information and use your own cells to multiply.
Fungi are vegetable-like mushrooms or mildew that will make you ill and protozoa are single-cell predators that are looking for a host where they can eat and live. The idea of contracting communicable diseases is enough to make anyone want to live in a bubble, but the body is naturally very resilient, so simply washing your hands can avoid most trouble.
There are viral, contagious diseases like AIDS, Smallpox, Ebola, Hepatitis, sexually transmitted Herpes or HPV, Influenza, Measles, Mumps, Rabies, SARS, West Nile, Meningitis, Mono, Pneumonia and Yellow Fever. Then there are bacterial, transmittable diseases like Anthrax, Botulism, Cat Scratch Fever, Cholera, Diphtheria, Gonorrhea, Leprosy, Lyme disease, Strept Throat, Salmonella, Scarlet Fever, Tuberculosis, Typhus and Shingles. Some transferable diseases are transmitted via parasites, such as Chagas Disease, Malaria, Pinworm Infection, Scabies, Trichomoniasis, Giardiasis, Echinococcosis and other rare diseases. Other times, diseases are transmitted through fungus or prion (proteins).
When dealing with an infectious disease, the first step is the infection, when microbes enter your body and begin to multiply. Health experts say the infection becomes a disease when cells in your body become damaged and the symptoms of illness appear. White blood cells and antibodies will attempt to ward your body off from the infection, which results in fevers, coughing, sneezing or other ailments.
Once the disease takes hold, medication will be needed. It’s important to know the difference between infectious diseases caused by bacteria or by a virus because medications that may treat one are ineffective against treating the other. Bacterial infections caused by single-celled living organisms are treated with antibacterial antibiotics. Viral infections, which alter genetic capsules, cannot be treated with medication directly but may have the symptoms assuaged with lozenges, rest, water, decongestants, cough syrups and pain relievers.
Infectious diseases are no laughing matter. If you are coughing and nose blowing all over the place but feel tempted to go to work, then resist and rest. Not all diseases are contagious, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Avoid sharing drinks or personal items with people and remember that prevention is the best cure.
According to the Center for Disease Control, there are seven steps you can take to prevent infection at home: always wash your hands, routinely clean AND disinfect all kitchen and bathroom surfaces, follow food safety precautions to prevent under-cooking meat or cross-contaminating surfaces, get immunized, use antibiotics properly, keep your pets clean and stay away from wild animals. Don’t be one of the 160,000 Americans who die from an infectious disease each year!