This site is designed to support and expand the Health Curriculum at Hillendale.

Communicable Disease This information will help you learn about how communicable diseases make you sick and what you can do to prevent germs from getting into your body.

Contents

What are communicable diseases?

What do you "catch" when you get a communicable disease?

What are germs?

Try a germ quiz!!!

Are there different types of germs?

What are some examples of the different types of germs?

  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Fungi
  • Protozoa

How do germs spread?

Can I protect myself from disease?

What is AIDS?

communicable diseases

germs

microbe

bacteria

virus

fungi

protozoa

What are communicable diseases?

A communicable disease such as a cold is a disease that spreads from person to person. Communicable diseases are diseases that you can "catch" from someone or something else. Some people may use the words contagious or infectious when talking about communicable diseases.

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What do you "catch" when you get a communicable disease?

When a person becomes sick with a communicable disease it means a germ has invaded their body. Germs fear soap and water. Washing your hands well and often is the best way to beat these tiny warriors.

What are germs?

Germs are tiny organisms (living things) that may cause disease. Germs are so small and sneaky that they creep into our body without being noticed. In fact, germs are so tiny that you need to use a microscope to see them. We don't know what hit us until we have symptoms (runny nose, cough, sore throat, fever, etc.) that let us know we've been attacked!

Germs are microbes. A microbe is a tiny living organism that can only be seen with a microscope. Microbes are the smallest form of life on Earth. Microbes have existed for millions, and possibly even billions of years. Although some microbes can make you sick or may even kill you. most are harmless, and some are extremely helpful. Microbes can be found virtually anywhere - in air, water, plants, animals and humans. A Germ is a microorganism that causes disease. Germs are also known as pathogens.

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REMEMBER - ALL microbes are NOT Germs!

  • We could not digest our food without microbes.
  • Garbage would not decay without microbes.
  • Plants would not grow without microbes.
  • The gas we pass is caused by bacteria in our intestines.
  • Without microbes there would be no life on earth.

Are there different types of germs?

There are four major types of germs:

  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Fungi
  • Protozoa

What are some examples of the different types of germs?

Let's talk about bacteria first.
Bacteria are EVERYWHERE! They live in sub freezing cold temperatures and boiling hot temperatures. They live up high in the sky and down deep below the ocean. In fact scientists have found colonies of bacteria thriving 1,600 feet below sea level without oxygen or sunlight. Scientists also think there are signs of microbial life on Mars! Some bacteria are harmful but most are harmless or even helpful.

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Have you ever heard of people becoming sick after eating undercooked hamburger? The bacteria that can invade your body if hamburger is tainted with bacteria and not cooked thoroughly is E. Coli. E. Coli is a bacteria that can cause people to become very sick and possibly even kill them.
Another common bacteria associated with food poisoning is Salmonella. When this bacteria is eaten it causes nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea.
Did you ever become sick with Strep throat? Step throat is caused by a common type of bacteria called Streptococcus. Strains of streptococcus that cause throat and skin infections lurk worldwide and spread by touch or through the air. Strep is usually not fatal and can be treated with antibiotics.
If you live in the Chester County, PA area you probably know someone who has or had Lyme disease. This illness is caused by bacteria that spread through the bite of an infected deer tick.

Remember that ALL Bacteria are not bad. Some bacteria are good for our bodies, they help keep things in balance. Examples of bad things caused by bacteria are sore throats, ear infections, cavities, and pneumonia.

Enough with bacteria, what about viruses?
Viruses depend upon a host to survive, grow, and reproduce. A host is the plant or animal on which or in in which another organism lives. Viruses can't live outside of other living cells.
Viruses are the smallest and simplest microbes, just a ball of genes wrapped in a shell - about a millionth of an inch across. No one knows exactly how long they've been on Earth or how they evolved.
Once they are inside the body, viruses can spread and make people sick. They reproduce by injecting their genes into a cell to produce thousands of new viruses. Viruses cause chicken pox, measles, flu, and many other diseases.

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Anyone, anywhere can get the flu, an extremely contagious viral disease. The influenza virus spreads through the air or by touch but usually is not fatal. There is no cure, but influenza often can be prevented with a yearly vaccination.

Chicken Pox is also caused by a virus.Most people who catch it are under 12 years of age. In olden times, the word "pox" meant curse. Wishing someone "a pox on your house" was wishing them bad luck. Although getting chicken pox seems like bad luck, "pox" now means skin eruptions or breakouts. And NO you didn't catch the virus from a chicken. Actually, chicken pox got its name from cicer, which is the Latin word for chick peas. People used to think that the bumps caused by the virus looked like chick peas on the skin!

Is there fungus among us?

Fungi are multi-celled plant-like organisms. Unlike other plants, fungi aren't able to produce their own food from soil, water, and air. Instead, fungi get their nutrition from plants, food, and animals.
Fungi thrive in warm, damp environments.
Most fungi are not dangerous.
An example of something caused by fungi is athlete's foot - that itchy rash that teens and adults sometimes get betweeen their toes.

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What exactly is Athlete's Foot Fungus?

Athlete's foot is a very common skin condition. Many people will develop it at least once in their lives. It occurs mostly among teenage and adult males. It is uncommon in women and children under the age of 12.
You can prevent athlete's foot by following some simple rules:

  • Wash your feet daily.
  • Avoid tight footwear, especially in the summer.
  • Wear cotton socks. Don't wear socks made of synthetic materials.
  • If posible, go barefoot at home.

What are protozoa?

Protozoa are one-celled organisms like bacteria. Protozoa also love moisture and often spread diseases through contaminated water. Some protozoa cause intestinal infections.

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