Communicable diseases start with a pathogen such as a bacteria or virus. Pathogens are tiny; a microscope is needed to see them. Pathogens spread through direct contact with a sick person. Indirect contact such as through the air or sharing personal items can also spread disease. The contagious period is the period of time the disease can spread from one person to another. The most common communicable disease is the flu. Insect or animal bites and eating or drinking contaminated food or water can also make you sick.
The immune system defends the body against germs. It consists of a combination of body defenses made up of cells, tissues and organs that fight off pathogens and disease. White blood cells also known as leukocytes are an important part of the immune system. They attack invading bacteria, parasites, and any other cells or objects that are not meant to be in your blood.
Three ways to prevent communicable disease are:
- Wash your hands and practice good hygiene.
- Avoid sick people.
- Practice healthy habits such as getting enough rest, eating right, and exercising. The healthier you are the better your body can fight off germs.
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are spread through sexual contact and body fluids. STDs have serious health consequences and can result in death. Some common STDs are Chlamydia, genital warts, genital herpes, gonorrhea, and AIDS. The HIV virus causes AIDS. HIV attacks the immune system and reduces the body’s ability to fight disease. AIDS is spread through either male or female sexual body fluids, blood, or breast milk. It is most commonly spread through sexual contact or sharing needles. It can also spread through breast milk from mother to child.
The only sure way to avoid STDs is abstinence, not engaging in other sexual activities, and not sharing needles. If you are sexually active, the use of a condom can lower the risk of STDs but abstinence is the only 100 percent effective means of avoiding STDs. Avoiding alcohol and drugs which impair your decision making skills will help you make healthy choices and avoid STDs.