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Communicable diseases: 12. Ways in which we can reduce the spread of communicable diseases

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There are various sections to work through, after 1 they can be read and studied in any order.

Sub-index of biology notes on communicable diseases


(12) More on how can we prevent, or reduce the spread of communicable diseases

A few preliminary thoughts on preventing the spread of communicable diseases

Being hygienic in food preparation - washing hands, clean work surfaces, storing food correctly e.g. in fridge.

Covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing and into a tissue or handkerchief.

Washing your hands after using the toilet.

Vaccination programmes against a potential viral or bacterial infection.

Isolating infected individuals in the home or hospital.

Destroying pathogen vectors (see malaria and mosquito).

Methods and strategies for minimising infection from communicable diseases

Early detection and treatment

This reduces chances of spreading a disease, but it is very dependant on your own knowledge of a disease and access to a good healthcare system for diagnosis and treatment.

Hygiene to reduce infection rates

You should be as hygienic as possible in your everyday life to reduce the spread of communicable diseases e.g.

Washing your hands thoroughly after going to the toilet, washing your hands before preparing and handling food, sneezing into a tissue rather than into the 'open air' and disposing of it.

Treating and cleaning kitchen worktops with antiseptic sprays.

Careful storage of foods that might 'go off' i.e. food might develop harmful pathogens like bacteria.

Carefully dispose of waste food.

Precautions when engaged in sexual activity.

Isolation of patients to reduce infection rates

If you are infected with a disease, as far is practicable, try to minimise contact with other people and therefore minimise passing the infection on - in extreme cases, you might end up in an isolation ward.

Vaccination to reduce infection and transmission

Where possible, vaccination of people or animals can be used to control the spread of communicable diseases.

Vaccination prevents the disease from developing and so the infection cannot be passed on.

See Keeping healthy - defence against pathogens, infectious diseases, vaccination

Vectors to reduce the mechanism of infection transmission

If you can kill or reduce the organisms that carry a disease (the vectors) you minimise their ability to pass the disease on.

Vectors like insects can be killed using insecticides or destroying their breeding ground habitats.

Isolating yourself, as far as is practicable, from other people, reducing your chances of passing on your infection. Some people with a serious communicable disease may be placed in a hospital isolation ward.

People are vectors too! e.g. sexually transmitted infection/disease can be defined as an infection/disease that is transmitted via body fluids through sexual contact (STI/STD)]

Sewage treatment to reduce the concentration of pathogens in water

Potable water is water deemed fit for safe human consumption i.e. free of harmful pathogens.

Waste water needs to be treated prior to human use OR after human use.

Chlorine and ozone are used to kill bacteria in drinking water.

Historically in developed countries, and still in many developing countries, thousand of people, especially children, die from contaminated water e.g. the cholera bacterium, that killed many in Victorian England and elsewhere.


Keywords, phrases and learning objectives for this part on how to reduce the spread of communicable diseases

Be able to describe ways in which we can reduce the spread of communicable diseases.

Know a variety of strategies and methods for reducing infection rates e.g. sewage treatment, killing vectors, isolation of patients, good hygiene, early detection from observed symptoms and subsequent mediacl treatment.


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