What is Communicable Disease

Communicable Disease


What is a communicable disease?

A communicable disease is one that is spread from one person to another through a variety of ways that include: contact with blood and bodily fluids; breathing in an airborne virus; or by being bitten by an insect.

Reporting of cases of communicable disease is important in the planning and evaluation of disease prevention and control programs, in the assurance of appropriate medical therapy, and in the detection of common-source outbreaks. California law mandates healthcare providers and laboratories to report over 80 diseases or conditions to their local health department. Some examples of the reportable communicable diseases include Hepatitis A, B & C, influenza, measles, and salmonella and other food borne illnesses.

Reportable Diseases in California

How do these communicable diseases spread?

How these diseases spread depends on the specific disease or infectious agent. Some ways in which communicable diseases spread are by:

  1. physical contact with an infected person, such as through touch (staphylococcus), sexual intercourse (gonorrhea, HIV), fecal/oral transmission (hepatitis A), or droplets (influenza, TB)
  2. contact with a contaminated surface or object (Norwalk virus), food (salmonella, E. coli), blood (HIV, hepatitis B), or water (cholera);
  3. bites from insects or animals capable of transmitting the disease (mosquito: malaria and yellow fever; flea: plague); and
  4. travel through the air, such as tuberculosis or measles.

List of Communicable Diseases

Local health departments are required to report some 80 communicable diseases to the California Department of Public Health as part of the disease surveillance and investigation efforts.  The diseases below are among them.

Disease Prevention Programs

Alameda County Public Health has a number of programs and campaigns devoted to the prevention of communicable and sexually transmitted disease.

Immunization Program

A program to help Alameda County adults and children get all needed immunizations to protect them against diseases that can be prevented.

Office of AIDS Administration

Their mission is to reduce the rates of new HIV infections; increase the number of county residents who know their HIV status earlier through HIV testing; and linking individuals who are positive into care.

Sexually Transmitted Disease Control

A program that works to increase individual, community, and health care provider awareness of the prevalence and impact of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) with a goal to reduce STDs in Alameda County residents especially the highest at-risk populations – adolescents and young adults – through education, prevention and community awareness. STD screening, testing and education are also provided.

Shoo the Flu

City of Oakland preschool and elementary children can receive free flu vaccinations each fall through Shoo the Flu, a community-based initiative to prevent seasonal influenza (flu) in Oakland through a school-based vaccination program.

Perinatal Hepatitis B Program

The Perinatal Hepatitis B Program works with hepatitis B positive mothers and medical providers to protect newborns from hepatitis B.

Communicable Disease Control Forms

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