Communicable Diseases

As a nursing assistant, you need to understand the role of microorganisms in causing communicable diseases.

Communicable diseases also called infectious diseases are caused by pathogenic microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, protozoa, fungi, and rickettsiae. These microorganisms can be inhaled, ingested or injected into the host (affected person). The microorganisms multiply inside the host and cause an infection. Thereafter, the pathogens start exiting through mouth, nose, eyes, ears, intestines, urinary tract and open wounds of the infected person. When this host comes in contact with others, he transmits his infection to another person, that is, a new host. The new host spreads the disease to other unaffected individuals.

microorganismTo break this chain of communicable disease, you need to break the infectious process. Practicing good hygiene and wearing gloves, surgical masks, face shields are some of the ways in which the spread of communicable diseases can be prevented. Other barrier devices that help nursing assistants from coming in contact with microorganisms include protective glasses, laboratory coats, gowns, mouthpieces, and resuscitation bags.

The most communicable diseases are:

  • Common Cold: This is a viral infection. Using good hygienic practices such as hand washing can help the disease from spreading.
  • Whooping Cough: This is a highly communicable disease-causing high-pitched uncontrollable coughing, respiratory infection, runny nose, and fever.
  • Strep Throat: This is another common communicable disease caused by Streptococcus pyogenes. Avoiding close contact with the infected individual is the only way to prevent this infection. Sneezing, coughing and handshakes spread the throat bacteria easily. Good hygienic practices such as hand washing can avoid the spread of this disease.
  • Gastroenteritis: This is a highly contagious disease that can occur due to eating contaminated food. Rotavirus and norovirus cause Gastroenteritis.
  • Pink Eye: Pink eye refers to bacterial or viral conjunctivitis, caused by staphylococcus or streptococcus. Avoiding handshakes and hugs with an infected person, and maintaining good personal hygiene helps to control the spread of this disease.
  • Gonorrhea: Gonorrhea is transmitted sexually by the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacterium. Avoiding unprotected sex prevents the spread of Gonorrhea.
  • Hepatitis B: hepatitis B virus causes hepatitis B, which causes inflammation of the liver, resulting in liver failure or cirrhosis.
  • HIV (human immunodeficiency virus): HIV is present in the vaginal fluids or semen of an infected person and gets transmitted sexually. In the late stages of this infection, it causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). Sharing needles with HIV or AIDS hosts can also transmit this disease.
  • Warts (verruca): This is caused by the Human papilloma virus. There are circumscribed outgrowths on the skin which can be communicated by direct or indirect contact with the affected person.

The spread of communicable diseases can also be prevented by:

  • Providing proper education to the patient about the type of disease
  • Explaining how the infection works
  • Encouraging:
  • Hand sanitization
  • Appropriate methods of storing and cleaning personal items
  • Proper disposal of contaminated items