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Infectious diseases

Infectious diseases

Infectious diseases are infections that can be passed from one person to another. Infections can also be passed on to humans from birds, insects and animals. Malaria is an example of this, as is E. coli

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Infectious diseases are caught in a number of ways, depending on the type of bug it is and how they survive in the environment. For example:

  • Tiny droplets of mucous in the air (measles or flu )
  • Directly from a surface or object touched by an infected person, such as a door handle (MRSA)
  • Eating or drinking something that is contaminated or infected (Salmonella)
  • Breathing in germs from another person who is breathing them out (tuberculosis of the lung)
  • Through infected blood and blood products (HIV)


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There are some simple measures that you can take to reduce the risk of getting an infection:

  • Make sure you and your family are up to date with your jabs/vaccinations and if travelling abroad get advice well in advance from your GP regarding any tablets or injections that may be needed for protection
  • Always wash and dry your hands thoroughly
  • Catch it, Bin it, Kill it - stop the spread of flu and cold germs by using a tissue
  • Follow simple food safety guidance
  • If you are caring for someone who has diarrhoea, use disposable gloves and apron if possible and wash your hands thoroughly after removing them. Ensure the toilet is cleaned and disinfected with bleach after each use
  • If you develop diarrhoea and vomiting and it is likely to be norovirus, you need to stay off work/ school for 48 hours after the last symptom. This depends on what the cause of the diarrhoea is. If you are in any doubt, contact your GP by phone rather than visit the GP as you may pass the disease on to others
  • If you have diarrhoea, vomiting, a cold or flu or feel unwell- do not visit relatives who are in hospital or care homes, as this will help to prevent the spread in this settings
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Last updated: 29 January 2019 | Last reviewed: 29 January 2019