Physical and Health Education

Family health

Types of diseases and mode of transfer

Disease means illness or disorder of the body and mind. The agents causing diseases are called pathogens. There are basically two types of diseases:

  • Communicable
  • Non- communicable diseases

Communicable diseases

Communicable diseases are diseases that can be transferred from one person to another. Mode of transmission can be through direct contact, infected air droplet, contaminated food and water, or vector including insects. Some communicable diseases are often referred to as infectious diseases.

To be classified as a communicable disease, an infection has to be present only in people affected by it and not those who are otherwise healthy and the healthy individuals who come into contact with the elements causing the infection have to fall ill as well. For an abnormality to be considered an infection the adverse agents have to come into the body, live for long enough to multiply and should be passed to other hosts easily. Communicable diseases are illnesses that are caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites, and prions, and are easily transferable from person to person. Communicable diseases cause infections that in most cases produce various kinds of symptoms, while the adverse agents responsible for the infections also need a weakened immune system to which they will make a problem. The stronger the badverse element, or a pathogen, coupled with a weak immune system, the stronger the infection. As a result, pathogens are classified based on the severity of destruction they cause for the organism. Primary pathogens are very strong, and will result in an infection in healthy individuals, while also affecting other animals, as well. The extent of the infection produced by a primary pathogen depends on both its strength and the strength of the person it’s affecting. Another kind of pathogens are the opportunistic pathogens, which otherwise live in the body without causing any problems, but when the opportunity presents itself are likely to cause an infection. Opportunistic pathogens can also come in contact with a person through various external means, such as through wound infections, blood transfusions, poisoning and so on. In order for the opportunistic pathogens to produce an infection, the person’s immune system has to be susceptible and unable to fight it off. Communicable diseases can occur from time to time, have regular presence in a population or a geographic area, be present in lots of people at once, or be spread globally.


There are many ways in which the elements that cause communicable diseases are passed on from individual to individual and some include coming into contact with contaminated food, water, bodily fluids, or an infected person. In any case, there has to be a source of an infection and identifying it helps to a great extent with dealing with an infection once it becomes a problem. There are those infections that are passed on very easily through minor physical contact, such as hand shaking, sneezing, kissing and so on, and there are instances in which the road to an infection is well known, such as having sexual relations with an infected person. In some instances, there are pathogens that survive on external objects, such as money and coming into contact with them leads to an infection. There are various insects, such as the flies or mosquitoes, which can transmit infectious agents from an animal or an object to a person.


Many relatively common infectious diseases are diagnosed by the presentation of symptoms. The adverse agents are easily identifiable, the treatment relatively simple and the consequences minor or nonexistent. In many cases, identification of the pathogen is done only when it can help with the advancement of prevention or treatment. There have been various kinds of advancements that lead to better diagnostics, such as the use of molecular diagnostics to identify the HIV virus in individuals who haven’t developed infections yet. As a result, clinicians and researchers are able to follow the virus and its development, while at the same time the person in question is aware that he or she is carrying an HIV. For the most part, the inspection of the symptoms coupled with the patient’s medical history and culture tests of pathogens usually make up the course of diagnosis. In some cases, various scans will be employed for identifying skeletal communicable illnesses.


In order to prevent the spreading of an infection, it first has to be established what the pathogens are and where they are coming from. There are also other elements that have to be taken into consideration, such as the time it takes for the infection to be passed on, and how contagious it is in the first place. For instance, there are many viruses that upon entering the system will kill the person relatively quickly, such as the Ebola virus, so there isn’t that much opportunity for the spreading. However, viruses such as HIV take a long time to develop into an infection, and there are many cases in which the virus is being spread without the person carrying it even being aware. Some beneficial ways to stop the spreading of agents that cause communicable diseases include introduction of programs such as needle exchange among the populations of intravenous drug users, vaccination of individuals who are susceptible to viral infection, and pest control. In many cases, however, when it comes to the most common infections, washing hands regularly will decrease the spreading of infectious diseases.

Types of communicable diseases

  • Air borne diseases
  • Water borne diseases
  • Contaminated food diseases
  • Contagious/ skin contact diseases
  • Animal/ insect bites disease

Air borne disease

There are two main ways by which diseases become air borne

  • Droplet infection
  • Dust infection

In droplet infection, when the patient coughs

In dust infection, spitting from a patient deposits the microbes in the dust, the siliva dries up and the bacteria forms spores. When the dust is disturbed, the spores are spread in the air and when it is breathed in by other people, it causes infection. Common air borne diseases are- whooping cough, flu, tuberculosis, cold catarrh etc

Water borne diseases

There are two main types of water borne diseases,

  • The one transmitted by intestinal infection
  • The one by parasite in animals that live in water. Common water borne diseases are: cholera, typhoid, amoebic dysentery etc

Contaminated food diseases

These diseases are transmitted by flies, dirty hands or ‘night-soil’ on crops. Common food diseases are: cholera, dysentery, typhoid

Contact disease or contagious disease

Diseases spread by skin contact are called contagious diseases, diseases transmitted this way are : ring worm, yaws, syphilis, scabies etc. Also certain animal parasites are transmitted by skin contact, they are fleas, body lice, head lice, ticks, mites and leeches

Animal bites

Some diseases are caused by animal bites e.g. rabies which can be caused by dog bite (rabid dogs or other carnivorous animals)

 Common communicable diseases

  • Whooping cough
  • Flu
  • Tuberculosis
  • Yellow fever
  • Cholera
  • Typhoid fever
  • Malaria fever
  • Ring worm
  • Scabies
  • Dysentery
  • Measles
  • Sleeping sickness
  • Cold
  • Gonorrhea
  • Syphilis
  • Warts
  • Tinia
  • I.D.S

Prevention of communicable diseases

  • Wash the properly before eating and after using the toilet
  • Cook your food properly before eating it e.g. Pork and beef
  • Fresh fruits that are not cooked must be thoroughly washed with clean water.
  • Avoid moving near an infected person e.g. Cough and catarrh
  • Always boil your water, where treated water is not available.
  • Keep your fingers clean and cut short your finger nails
  • Avoid sharing personal effect with other people things like cups, combs, pants, singlet, towel tooth brush and others
  • Treat wounds and sores and never leave them exposed.
  • Ensure good environmental sanitation both in and outside the house
  • Destroy all vectors
  • Always eat adequate diet, maintain high personal cleanliness
  • Fumigate your surroundings regularly
  • Regular medical checkup is highly important
  • Regular vaccination and immunization are essential

General control of communicable disease

Infectious disease often cause epidemics, therefore proper care must be taken to contain the spread once they are observed. The measure to take include

  • A suspected patient should be isolated
  • All materials used must be reserved for him.
  • The room and the clothing must be disinfected always
  • Only specially trained nurses should care for him
  • People living with him should be observed
  • Vaccination or inoculation should be taken to give immunity.
  • Some of the pathogens can be eliminated through perfect cleanliness

Other control measure

  • Heat

All articles should be sterilized by boiling and heating

  • Cold

Freezing and extremely cold conditions slow the rate of reproduction down of bacteria

  • Sunlight

Room that have good sunlight never encourage bacterial and viral growth and development

  • Fresh air

Rooms should be well ventilated

  • Antiseptics and germicides

Non-communicable diseases and their prevention

Non-communicable diseases are disease are disease that cannot be transmitted from one person to another. They have many causes but never caused by germs, bacteria, or other living organisms that attack the body.

They are caused by

  • By atomic fall-out
  • By chemical fall-out

Common non-communicable diseases

Rheumatism, heart attack, stroke, cancer, migraines, cataractPhysiological failure of the tissues
Snake bite, cough from smoke, stomach ulcer, alcoholism, allergies, asthmaChemical or atomic fall-outs
Marasmus, pellagra, anaemia, goiter, kwashiorkor, cirrhosisMalnutrition, dietary imbalance
Hare lip, crossed eye, epilepsy, retarded brain, birth mark, other deformitiesCongenital problem or heredity
Paranoia, anxiety, neurosis, schizophrenia, phobias, psychosis, hypochondriaBrain damage or emotional disturbance

Non-communicable diseases also known as chronic diseases tend to be of long duration and are the result of a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental and behaviours factors.

The main types of communicable diseases are cardiovascular diseases (like heart attack and stroke), cancers, chronic respiratory diseases (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and diabetes.

Prevention of non-communicable disease

Government/society responsibility

  • Focus on reducing the risk factor associated with these diseases. Monitoring progress and trends of non-communicable diseases and their risk is important for guiding policies and priorities.
  • To lessen the impact of non-communicable diseases and society, a comprehensive approach is needed requiring all sectors, including health, finance, etc.
  • Management of non-communicable disease, which includes detecting, screening and treating these diseases and provide care for people in need, and this can be achieved through primary health care facilities.
  • The government should provide health insurance to manage these diseases, it is essential for achieving a global target, and the prevention of the risk of mortality.

Personal efforts

  • Exercise every day, physical activities removes disease causing toxins through sweats. It also prevent cardiovascular disease, respiratory problems and reduces the risk of cancer and diabetes. It is recommended to perform at least 30 minutes of the exercise.
  • Eat food high in lecithin is a potent substance that regulates cell nutrients. It also helps you

Maintain an ideal body weight and help prevent your body from accumulating unnecessary fat

  • Consume food in high anti-oxidants. The active ingredient in high antioxidant are called flavournoids
  • Train the brain. Playing video games and solving cross word puzzles everyday can help exercise the brain and prevent memory loss and deterioration

Do yoga everyday yoga strengthens the mind and body. It prevents life style diseases, especially cardiovascular and respiratory illness.

Disease vectors

Vectors are animals which transmit disease causing organism (pathogens) from an infected person to an uninfected person without being infected. Examples are: mosquito, rats, house fly etc.


Mosquitoes cause more deaths than any other disease vector. Over 3 billion people are at risk from mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue fever and lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis). The most dangerous mosquitoes are:

Aedes aegyptiAe. albopictus, and other Aedes spp: Chikungunya virus, dengue virus, West Nile virus, yellow fever virus, Zika virus, lymphatic filariasis/ elephantiasis (parasitic roundworm);

Anopheles species (60+ species transmit diseases): malaria (parasitic protozoan), lymphatic filariasis (parasitic roundworm), West Nile virus;

Culex species: West Nile virus, lymphatic filariasis/ elephantiasis (parasitic roundworm);

Haemagogus species; Sabethes species: yellow fever virus.

Many other species of mosquito can transmit diseases but are not so prevalent in the human environment or as effective at transmission as the genera and species listed.

There is no vaccine for the majority of mosquito-borne diseases, and no specific treatment for viruses such as dengue, Chikungunya, Zika or West Nile virus — there is a vaccine only for yellow fever. Therefore disease reduction and elimination is totally dependent on vector control for all these other diseases.

For more information see:

Insect-borne diseases;



Rats (both Rattus norvegicus the brown or Norway rat; and R. rattus the black or roof rat) and the house mouse are the most significant rodent pests or urban environments. Ground squirrels, chipmunks, woodrats and marmots are also significant vectors of disease in some areas.

Diseases: rodents carry a large number of diseases including bacteria, viruses, protozoa and helminths (worms). Specific diseases of importance include:

Leptospirosis via urine, caused by two bacteria Leptospira interrogans and L. biflexa (it is also common in the urine of other wild and domestic animals and causes illness in them). Rodents cannot control their urine so contaminate every surface they run across;

various food-borne diseases such as Salmonella, from rodents contaminating food with faeces and filth;

murine typhus and the plague carried via fleas;

many other diseases carried by rodent ectoparasites: flea, tick, lice and mite-borne diseases.

Rodents have been associated with human activities for millennia, infesting homes, domestic buildings, food stores, businesses handling food, and ships and vehicles carrying food. They are a major health and economic threat worldwide for homes and businesses.

For more information see:

Rodent-borne diseases;

Pest control in food processing;

Pest control in the hospitality sector;

Connected rodent control.


The main pest species are: German Cockroach, Blattella germanica; American Cockroach, Periplaneta americana; Oriental Cockroach, Blatta orientalis.

Diseases: a wide range of pathogenic bacteria, including SalmonellaStaphylococcusListeriaE. coliCampylobacter and viruses, fungi, protozoans and parasitic worms. They also produce particles that can cause asthma.

Cockroaches are one of the most serious pests of homes and businesses wherever there is food, such as in food storage facilities, food processing factories, restaurants, healthcare facilities and pharmaceutical manufacturing plants. They feed on virtually any source of food including mould, decaying and faecal matter, which they can then carry on their bodies to hygiene-critical areas. In addition: they defecate as they travel, secrete saliva to taste their surroundings, and cast skins and egg cases, leaving a foul odour wherever they travel — on surfaces and in equipment, furnishings, packaging and food.


Filth flies, including house flies, drain flies, black flies and flesh flies.

Diseases: Flies are known to carry over 100 disease-causing bacteria, viruses and parasites, such as Salmonella spp., E. coliCampylobacter sp., Trypanosoma brucei (a protozoan parasite that causes African trypanosomiasis), Onchocerca volvulus (nematode worm parasite that causes onchocerciasis, carried by Simulium species of blackfly).

Flies are a hazard from contaminating surfaces and food. They are attracted to food sources around homes and businesses, including food waste. They also feed and breed on dead animals, drains and faeces, where they come into contact with many pathogenic microorganisms.


Rodent fleas, Xenopsylla cheopis and Nosopsyllus fasciatus; cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis; human flea, Pulex irritansOropsylla montana on ground squirrels in the US.

Diseases: Bubonic plague, bacteria Yersinia pestis; flea-borne typhus (also called murine typhus, endemic typhus, urban typhus), bacteria Rickettsia typhi.

There are over 2,200 flea species worldwide, but most are only found on specific animal hosts. Fleas are usually brought into contact with humans by domestic or wild animals, including rats and mice, cats, dogs, foxes, birds, and rabbits. They generally prefer to feed on their host animal, but will attempt to feed on other hosts when they cannot find their preferred host.

The most important pest fleas are rodent fleas, which carry disease, and cat fleas which are a biting pest. They are a serious urban pest for humans and other urban animals. Both species are nest fleas, which means they are therefore dependent on the host animals returning to their nests each day for feeding. When the animals permanently leave their nest or are exterminated, the fleas will then move out of the nests to seek new hosts. This is often the cause of infestation of buildings.

Rat fleas become infected by feeding on an infected rat. The bacteria multiplies in the rat intestine, but does not appear in saliva, so the flea bites do not transmit the plague or typhus. People are infected when a rat flea (or rarely other species of flea) defecates onto its host’s skin and the person scratches a flea bite or squashes the flea. The bacteria enter the bite wound or an existing break in the skin.


Body louse, Pediculus humanus humanus; Head louse, Pediculus humanus capitis.

Diseases: epidemic typhus, Rickettsia prowazekii; murine typhus, Rickettsia typhi; trench fever/ bartonellosis, Bartonella quintana; relapsing fever, Borrelia recurrentis.

The head louse and body louse are the same species and virtually indistinguishable even using genetic analysis, but are thought not to interbreed. Lice can be passed from person to person by close contact in situations of poor sanitation such as in homeless person shelters and refugee camps. They can also be spread by contact with clothing and personal items such as hats and scarves.

In developed countries head lice most commonly affect children and are not known to transmit disease. They are more of an irritant, causing itching and distress.

People catch the infections from the lice faeces when scratching and rubbing bites, which carries the bacteria into broken skin and from hands can be passed into mucous membranes.


Phlebotomine sandflies are the most important disease vectors. Phlebotomus species occur from Europe across Africa and Asia to Australia and the Pacific. Lutzomyia and other genera occur in North and South America.

Diseases: The most important diseases are cutaneous and visceral leishmaniasis caused by Leishmania species of protozoa. Sandflies also transmit several bacterial and viral diseases including bartonellosis and pappataci fever. The majority of cases worldwide occur in India, Sudan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Brazil.

Sandflies live for about a month, of which 20 days are as larvae. The females lay eggs in soil and cracks and crevices with relatively cool and humid a environment and dead organic matter for the larvae to feed on. This can include dense vegetation, animal burrows, household rubbish. In areas such as rural India the construction of homes with mud walls plastered with cow dung creates an ideal environment.

Only the females feed on blood to produce eggs. Human to human transmission via sandfly bites is the main means of transmission. However, dogs, foxes and other canids are animal reservoirs of the parasite in parts of South America, Mediterranean and the Middle East. Rodents have been found with the parasite in Sudan.

Control methods include residual insecticide spraying inside houses, insecticide treated nets, environmental protections and personal protection.

For more information see the WHO Leishmaniasis page.


There are around 900 species of tick, classified into two main families: hard ticks, Ixodidae, which includes most ticks of medical importance, and soft ticks, Argasidae.

Diseases: Some of the main diseases are: Lyme disease (bacteria), Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (virus), Kyansur Forest disease (virus), tick typhus (bacteria), tularaemia (bacteria), Crimean Congo haemorrhagic fever (virus), relapsing fever (bacteria), tick-borne encephalitis (virus). The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists 15 diseases carried by ticks in the US. Even in developed countries new diseases are being discovered. In the US two new tick-borne viruses have recently been discovered: Heartland virus in 2012 and the Bourbon virus in 2014.

The reservoirs of these diseases are rodents, dogs, cattle, rabbits, other mammals and birds.

Ticks cause more cases of disease in Europe and North America than any other arthropod (insects and arachnids), according to WHO — the most common disease in all areas being Lyme disease.

Ticks occur in forests shrubland, grassland and moorland, where they feed on many kinds of wild and domestic animals, and passing humans. Carried by farm animals, rodents, birds and pets, ticks can infest buildings in rural and urban environments.

Homes in rural and semi-urban areas are also at risk of having ticks in the surrounding vegetation. Increasing suburbanisation is bringing more homes into contact with tick infested areas in both Europe and North America. Ticks can be controlled near properties surrounded by vegetation by spraying the vegetation with a residual insecticide.



Pigeons, gulls and sparrows are the main pests in the human environment.

Diseases: Birds carry many human diseases including viruses, bacteria, fungi and protozoa. The more common pathogenic microorganisms include SalmonellaE. coli and Campylobacter. Strains of bird flu such as H1N1 can be carried long distances by migrating wild birds, but are mainly a threat to people working close to farmed birds.

Bird nesting and roosting sites can be sources of infestations of arthropods such as bird mites and fleas. Many wild bird species can spread ticks that are vectors of a number of diseases, including Lyme disease.

Birds are mainly a health threat in urban and industrial environments where they are attracted by food and shelter. Their droppings foul buildings, vehicles, paved areas and building entrances. The droppings, nesting material and feathers can contaminate sensitive surfaces, machinery and food products.

Triatomine bugs

The main species causing human infection are Triatoma infestans in S. Peru, Rhodnius prolixus in Colombia, Venezuela, and Central America, Triatoma dimidiata, Central America. However, over 150 species of Triatomine bug carry the disease.

Disease: Chagas disease/ American trypanosomiasis. Protozoan parasite, Trypanosoma cruzi.

The disease occurs only in the Americas, from about 42°N in California and Maryland to 42°S in Argentina. Cases of Chagas disease occur mainly in rural areas of Mexico and Central and South America.

Chagas disease has been recorded in over 100 species of domestic and wild mammal. In domestic situations, cats and dogs are the most important hosts. In some towns in Argentina and Venezuela, infection rates in dogs were found to be around 40%, and in the high Andes where guinea pigs are a common domestic animal, 10-60% were infected with the parasite. (WHO, 2003 c).

Triatomine bugs occur in the wild in forested and dry areas in burrows and nests of wild animals, including birds, bats, squirrels, opossums. Near human habitation they will feed on both domestic animals and humans.

They are night time feeders, hiding during the day in small spaces such as cracks and crevices of walls made from coarse brick and plaster work, furniture, beds, thatched roofs, and piles of firewood. The parasite is carried in the faeces of the bug and can infect a person when scratching the skin around a bite or from touching a contaminated surface and then the eyes, mouth, skin break or food.

Vector control for triatomine bugs includes residual insecticide spraying of walls in homes, home improvement to remove cracks in walls and floors, replacing thatch with corrugated iron roofing, bednets and general hygiene practices.

Tsetse fly


Glossina species.

Disease: African trypanosomiasis/ sleeping sickness, caused by two subspecies of the protozoan Trypanosoma bruceiT. b. gambiense and T. b. rhodesiense.

As the name of the disease suggests, it mainly occurs in Africa, between 15°N and 20° S. The subspecies T. b. gambiense is mainly caught in areas with dense vegetation near rivers and lakes. The parasite is carried from human to human by the tsetse fly.

For T. b. Rhodesiense, however, the reservoir of the parasite is wild animals and cattle in savannah and forested areas. It causes a more acute infection but occurs more sporadically due to the habitats where it occurs being more remote. This subspecies is also a cause of serious disease in cattle.

The disease was virtually eliminated by the 1960s but vector control and surveillance programmes lapsed and it became an epidemic again in several places in the 1970s.

Vector control techniques for sandflies include the sequential aerosol spraying technique (SAT); ground spraying; insecticide-treated targets or live animals; baited traps or screens, and the sterile insect technique (SIT).

In 2015 WHO announced the lowest number of new cases in 75 years (below 4,000) and that it was on track to eliminate the disease by 2020.


Freshwater snails in the tropics and subtropics: BiomphalariaBulinusOncomelania and Neotricula species.

Disease: Schistosomiasis, trematode worm, primarily Schistosoma mansoniS. japonicum, and S. haematobium. Other species infect humans in localised areas.

The snails live in shallow areas of freshwater bodies, ranging in size from ponds and streams to lakes and rivers. They are more abundant where there are water plants and organic matter present, such as from human sewage.

Schistosomiasis has been documented in 78 countries and is prevalent in 52 (WHO, 2014), infecting about 250 million people in 2012. The larvae of the trematode worm live in freshwater and penetrate the skin of people spending a long time in water, such as for bathing, fishing, farming rice and swimming. The adults live in blood vessels of the host and lay eggs that are expelled in faeces and urine. If they reach fresh water, the eggs hatch to release the larvae. These have to penetrate snails and undergo phases of development before being released into the water again, then find a human or animal to complete the cycle.

Infections are spread through poor sanitation, building of dams and irrigation projects, and migration of populations. It is thought that the parasite was introduced into the Americas by the slave trade.

The main strategy for controlling Schistosomiasis is by providing at-risk populations with anthelmintic drugs, improved sanitation, hygiene education and snail control.

Dogs and other mammals

Dogs, bats, other carnivorous mammals.

Disease: Rabies virus.

Rabies is present in over 150 countries and causes an estimated 59,000 deaths a year. However, it is believed to be greatly under-reported (Hampson, 2015) as most cases occur in poor communities in developing countries. Around 99% of cases are caused by dog bites or saliva coming into contact with broken skin or mucosa (eye, nose, mouth). In the Americas bats are also significant vectors. Rabies is almost always fatal and has no diagnostic tests to determine infection before symptoms show.

The disease usually takes 1-3 months to incubate but it can vary from one week to one year before symptoms start to show. Symptoms start as fever and pain, then after the virus progresses through the central nervous system it causes fatal inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. People can also show hydrophobia (fear of water) or aerophobia (fear of flying).

There is a safe vaccine for both humans and dogs and if immediate treatment is given following a bite the disease can be avoided. Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) involves washing the wound with soap and water for at least 15 minutes, application of povidone iodine (or equivalent) to kill the virus and vaccination.


  1. The two types of diseases are
    (a) communicable and non-communicable
    (b) computable and non-computable
    (c) malaria and typhoid
    (d) fever and non-fever
  2. Air borne disease can be contracted through one of these
    (a) water
    (b) undergroud
    (c) dust
    (d) sand
  3. All of these are examples of communicable diseases except
    (a) cancer
    (b) scabies
    (c) measles
    (d) cold
  4. Disease causing orgasms are also known as
    (a) patholites
    (b) patholics
    (c) pathogens
    (d) pathosics
  5. Rats, fleas, coackroaches, birds are all examples of
    (a) vector
    (b) radar
    (c) compass
    (d) demons

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