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Infectious Diseases: Overview & Types

Team AckoJan 18, 2024

There are some diseases that are caused by external sources rather than by internal dysfunction or illness. Such diseases are caused by harmful pathogens or microorganisms such as bacteria, parasites, fungi, or viruses. These diseases are known as Infectious Diseases. They can begin with mild symptoms that gradually worsen. 




What are Infectious Diseases?

Infectious Diseases are ailments caused by microbes, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites, that are spread from person to person, either directly or indirectly. People can also become infected after coming into contact with an infected animal carrying a pathogenic bacterium capable of infecting people.

According to the World Health Organisation, these disorders are classified into three types.

  • Illnesses that have a high death rate

  • Diseases that impose major disability loads on populations

  • Diseases, due to their rapid and unexpected spread, that can have major global consequences

What are the types of Infectious Diseases?

Here are the types of Infectious Diseases. 

1. Viral infections

Viruses are microscopic pathogens that carry genetic material (DNA and RNA). They are significantly smaller than your cells and are incapable of self-replication. They infiltrate your cells and use your cells' mechanisms to replicate themselves.

2. Bacterial infections

Bacteria can be located inside the human body and skin. Some are harmless or even beneficial, but some produce toxins that may cause infections and make you ill.

3. Fungal infections

Like bacteria, fungi also come in various forms. They exist on and within your body. You can become ill if the fungi inside your body become overgrown or if harmful fungi enter your body through your mouth, nose, or a cut in your skin. 

4. Parasitic infections

Parasites live and reproduce in the bodies of other species. Worms and some single-celled organisms (protozoa) are examples of parasites. Parasitic protozoa can cause various conditions.

5. Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs)

These are caused due to prions, which are defective proteins that lead to other proteins, especially in your brain, to malfunction. Because your body doesn't have the ability to use or eliminate these proteins, they accumulate and cause illness.

What are common infectious diseases?

9 Most common Infectious Diseases are as follows.

1. Rhinoviruses

Rhinoviruses cause the common cold. 

2. Coronaviruses

Coronaviruses are a type of virus that attacks the respiratory system. It is a member of the SARS-CoV-2 virus family. Some coronaviruses induce normal cold and flu symptoms, whereas others have more serious consequences.

3. Influenza 

Infections caused by influenza viruses affect the respiratory system. 

4. HIV

HIV attacks the host's immune system. This makes the individual susceptible to additional illnesses and diseases. 

5. Salmonella and Escherichia coli

Nontyphoidal Salmonella and Escherichia coli (E. coli) are two forms of bacteria that can infect your gastrointestinal tract. Salmonella typhi, another kind of salmonella, can cause typhoid or intestinal fever.

6. Tuberculosis 

Tuberculosis (TB) can result in symptoms like a persistent cough for more than 3 weeks, loss of appetite, fever, chills, unintended weight loss, and night sweats

7. Ringworm

Ringworm is a common fungal skin illness. A ring-shaped rash is a common symptom of ringworm. It could be flaky, scaly, or irritating. Ringworm can be contracted by the following.

  • Close contact with a ringworm patient

  • Sharing personal belongings with a ringworm patient 

  • Close contact with infected animals

8. Athlete’s foot

An athlete's foot is a prevalent fungal infection on the skin of the feet. It usually results in painful or itchy white spots between the toes. Athletes' feet can be contracted through direct contact with someone who has the fungus or through surfaces that have been contaminated with the fungus.

9. Plasmodium

The tropical disease malaria is caused by the protozoan genus Plasmodium. The parasite spreads mostly through mosquito bites. Malaria causes the following symptoms.

Common causes of Infectious Diseases

After being infected by the pathogen, a person may acquire an Infectious disease. This could happen as a result of the following.

  • Direct contact with a pathogen-carrying individual 

  • Contact with pathogen-containing bodily fluids

  • Ingesting contaminated water or foods

  • Breathing virus-containing droplets 

  • Receiving a bite from an animal or bug carrying the pathogen

  • From the pregnant woman to the foetus

  • Close physical contact with another individual

  • Sharing utensils or glasses with others

  • Contact with the faeces of a person or animal infected with an infectious disease

  • By way of insect (mosquito or tick) or animal bites

Treatment for Infectious Diseases

Some infectious diseases develop only minor symptoms that go away on their own. Others may result in serious symptoms or perhaps fatal complications. Patients require different treatments depending on the disease process and clinical symptoms.

1. For viral infections

Vaccines are an extremely effective technique for protecting against particular viral diseases. A vaccine is a strain of the virus that is administered to a person. In response, the immune system generates antibodies that are capable of eliminating an active form of the virus in future infections. If an individual has already been affected by a virus, antiviral drugs may be required to keep the infection under control.

2. For bacterial infections

Bacterial infections can range from minor to life-threatening. A person with a bacterial infection might need antibiotics to control the infection. These drugs may help destroy bacteria or slow their growth so that the immune system can combat them. However, antibiotics should only be taken on the advice of a doctor.

3. For fungal infections

A serious or prolonged fungal infection may necessitate the use of antifungal drugs prescribed by a doctor and, in rare situations, intravenous treatment. However, many mild infections, such as ringworm and athlete's foot, can be treated with over-the-counter skin ointments.

Preventing Infectious Diseases

People may minimise their chances of transmitting disease-causing microorganisms by taking the following precautions.

  • Washing of hands frequently and thoroughly

  • Regularly disinfecting the surfaces of the floors and other areas

  • Cook food properly before consuming 

  • Avoiding contact with animals that are not adequately vaccinated

  • Obtaining all vaccines duly

  • Taking anti-malarial drugs when visiting malaria-prone areas

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about infections.


What are common Infectious Diseases?

Some common Infectious Diseases include flu, covid-19, sore throat, salmonella, tuberculosis, pertussis, sexually transmitted diseases, urinary tract infections, E.coli, ringworm, and HIV.

What is called an Infectious Disease?

Infectious Diseases are ailments caused by microbes, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites, that are spread from person to person, either directly or indirectly. People can also become infected after coming into contact with an infected animal carrying a pathogenic bacterium capable of infecting people.

How do Infectious Diseases spread?

Infectious Diseases can be spread due to a variety of factors such as environmental concerns, inadequate sanitation and water supply, etc.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. Please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.


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