Communicable disease is passed from one organism to another. This pattern of infectious disease can be controlled or blocked through various forms of communicable disease prevention strategy. These range from something as simple as hand washing right up to pest control programs.
A basic form of communicable disease prevention for governments is to provide clean drinking water. Ensuring food is of a safe standard also helps prevent illness. Infections such as salmonella and cholera are passed through contaminated water and food, and one person in a household can then pass it on to another family member.
Clean homes that are not overcrowded are another essential element of communicable disease prevention. When surfaces are clean, family members are less likely to pick up contamination from an infected person or from a pet. Airborne diseases are more likely to affect people who live in an overcrowded, unventilated home as any pathogen is not removed by new, clean air coming through the house.
Individual cleanliness also helps reduce the amount of potential pathogens a person carries on his or her body. Habits such as using a tissue when sneezing, washing hands after using the toilet, and washing hands after touching pets can also reduce the likelihood of passing on an infection. In situations where a person is obviously ill, personal protective equipment and commonly understood codes of conduct also help to lower the risk of disease transmission.
For example, wearing gloves when touching the affected area and cleaning up blood thoroughly are all communicable disease prevention strategies. These precautions are especially important for medical professionals, who are exposed to lots of ill people every day. Isolation strategies, such as keeping a child with chickenpox inside and away from his or her schoolmates also helps prevent the disease jumping to another vulnerable person.
Vaccination is a prophylactic method of communicable disease transmission. It is quick and easy, although effective vaccines only exist for some diseases. In the case of smallpox, vaccination completely eradicated the disease. In disaster situations such as famine, prophylactic provision of adequate nutrition to those affected can help reduce the likelihood of disease by strengthening the immune system.
As well as providing the basics of healthy living to its citizens, a government may also actively seek out people with infectious disease to treat them and thereby remove a source of infection from the community. Tuberculosis screening programs are one such example, where a government offers free screening and free treatment for those affected. Screening pregnant women for hepatitis B or HIV can also help lower the transmission rate from mother to baby.
Humans are not always the source of infectious disease in a community. Animals and insects can also transfer an infectious disease. Pest control programs, such as spraying chemicals to kill mosquitoes, can lower rates of diseases such as malaria, which the insect transmits from person to person.
Education is a strategy that is commonly used to inform the public about communicable disease prevention. Educational programs can run in schools, in community settings, or even through television or over the Internet. Counseling is another form of education that targets the people most at risk and those who are already affected by disease.