Infectious diseases may be caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites or fungi; the diseases can be spread, directly or indirectly, from one person to another. Zoonotic diseases are infectious diseases of animals that can cause disease when transmitted to humans.
Preventing Infectious Diseases
Prevention is the key to stopping the spread of many infectious diseases and sometimes can make the difference between life and death. Handwashing is the single most important means of preventing the spread of infection. Unfortunately, improper or infrequent handwashing continues to be a major factor in the spread of disease. Other important ways to prevent infection include following the appropriate immunization schedule.
Examples of Infectious Diseases
Common Cold - The common cold is one of the most common illnesses, leading to more doctor visits and absences from school and work than any other illness annually.
Meningitis - Meningitis is a disease caused by an inflammation of the meninges, the membranes that surround the brain. The inflammation is usually caused by infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord.
HIV - The HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA) of IDSA represents the diversity of medical subspecialists practicing HIV medicine. HIVMA promotes quality in HIV care and advocates for a comprehensive and humane response to the AIDS pandemic informed by science and social justice.
Influenza - Influenza (flu) is a viral infection that can be serious and even fatal. It can be prevented with immunization and treated with antivirals. IDSA focuses on both seasonal and pandemic flu.
Lyme Disease - Lyme disease is caused by bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi. Most cases can be successfully treated with a few weeks of antibiotics. Lyme disease can be prevented by avoiding ticks.
Malaria - A blood parasite transmitted to people by the bite of certain mosquitoes. The disease is a risk mainly in tropical and subtropical climates.
Tuberculosis (TB) - Tuberculosis can be a chronic bacterial infection that usually infects the lungs, although other organs, such as the kidneys, spine, or brain are sometimes involved. TB is primarily spread from person to person through air droplets when someone coughs or sneezes.
West Nile Virus - The West Nile virus belongs to a group of viruses known as flaviviruses, commonly found in Africa, West Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Flaviviruses are spread by insects, most often mosquitoes.
Whooping Cough (Pertussis) - Whooping cough, or pertussis, is very contagious and mainly affects infants and young children. Whooping cough is caused by a bacterium called