Common Infectious Diseases

and how to stay healthy!

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Bacterial Diseases

These diseases are caused by bacteria...

1. Strep Throat: "Strep" is short for Streptococcus, the bacterium that causes the disease. Symptoms of strep throat include sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, headache, and fever.

2. Lyme Disease: Humans become infected with Lyme disease when they are bitten by an infected tick. Symptoms include a red rash where the tick bite is, fever, chills, and body aches.

3. Bacterial Meningitis: Meningitis is an infection of the fluid in the spinal cord and the fluid around the brain. Some symptoms are high fever, headache, vomiting, and a stiff neck. There are two types of meningitis- one is caused by bacteria and one is cause by a virus. Bacterial meningitis tens to be more serious than viral.

4. Tuberculosis: Tuberculosis, or TB, is a highly contagious bacterial infection of the lungs. Symptoms, such as fatigue, weight loss, mild fever, and constant cough might not show up for years after the initial infection.


  • If your doctor determines you have a bacterial disease, they may give you an antibiotic- a drug that inhibits or kills bacteria
  • Antibiotics are prescribed, so you can only get them with a written order from a qualified healthcare professional.
  • It is very important to use antibiotics exactly as they are prescribed.
  • If you don't finish your prescription, you can develop antibiotic resistance which makes your disease very difficult to treat.

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Viral Diseases

These diseases are cause by viruses that enter the body and multiply...

1. The Common Cold: The common cold is actually a group of symptoms that is caused by a number of different viruses. Symptoms include sneezing, sore throat, runny nose, coughing, chest congestion, fever, headaches, and muscle aches. Most colds last 3-7 days. There is no cure for the common cold.

2. Influenza: Influenza, or the flu, is a common viral infection of the upper respiratory system. Typical symptoms of the flu are high fever, sore throat, headache, and a cough. Influenza can be more serious than cold viruses, in infants, the elderly, and people with heart and lung disease especially. Influenza can be prevented by immunization- the "flu shot."

3. Pneumonia: Influenza can develop in pneumonia in people who are elderly, who have heart disease, or who have breathing problems. Pneumonia is a serious infection of the lungs which is cause by viruses, bacteria, or even fungi.

4. Hepatitis: Hepatitis, or inflammation of the liver, can be caused by a group of viruses that infect the liver. Since the liver is so important to many bodily functions, hepatitis is very serious. Symptoms include yellowing of the skin, fever, nausea, and pain in the abdomen. The most common types are identified as A, B, or C.

-Hepatitis A is transmitted in human wastes and in contaminated water and food. It can be prevented with a vaccine.

-Hepatitis B is more severe than type A. It can be transmitted in blood or during sexual contact. It can also be transmitted during tattooing or piercings if the tools are sterilized.

-Hepatitis C is also more severe than type A. It can also be transmitted in blood, during sexual contact, or during tattooing or piercing. Hepatitis C is the #1 reason for liver transplants in the United States.


  • There is no particular medicine in most cases that can cure a viral infection.
  • Antibiotics are only effective against bacteria, not viruses.
  • The best treatments are rest, a well-balanced diet, and plenty of fluids.
  • Over-the-counter medication can help with symptoms but do not cure the infection.

Stay Healthy!

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When to Seek Medical Care

Seek a doctor if...

  • an extremely sore throat, earache, vomiting, diarrhea, or a temperature of 101°F lasts more than 2 days.
  • mucus from your nose or throat is thick and yellowish green.
  • you have difficulty breathing or severe pain anywhere.
  • a cut, scrape, or sore that should be healing doesn't seem to be.
  • an illness is lasting longer than usual.

Prevent Infectious Diseases

These are some healthful behaviors to practice to help avoid disease!

  • Wash your hands several times a day, ESPECIALLY before eating and after using the bathroom.
  • Don't share items that can transfer pathogens, like cups, towels, or eating utensils.
  • Cook and store foods properly. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Always cook meat thoroughly.
  • Avoid close contact with ill people.
  • Stay home when you don't feel well.
  • Learn to manage stress in healthful ways and get at least 8 hours of sleep at night.
  • Eat well balanced meals and don't skip meals! Exercise regularly, at least three times a week.
  • Avoid unhealthful substances, such as tobacco, alcohol, and illegal drugs.