By definition, infectious diseases are illnesses that are transmissible from person to person – or even from animal to animal or animal to person. Causes are Bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites. How long an infectious disease lasts, how severe it is and whether it can be cured at all depends on the pathogen and also on the condition of the infected person. Sometimes people or animals are only carriers of the disease, without showing any symptoms themselves.
How infectious diseases are best treated depends on the nature of the disease. While there is still no cure for many viruses, antibiotics are effective against many bacteria. However, as the pathogens are increasingly developing resistance, this form of therapy is considered to be more and more problematic. There are effective remedies for fungal infections, such as skin or nail fungus.
Infectious diseases: List from A – Z
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Infectious diseases: Causes
Infectious diseases are always caused by contact with the pathogen, such as a virus, a bacterium, fungal spores or a parasite. The Transmission route varies depending on the pathogen. For some viral diseases – such as the common cold – all it takes is a handshake or a cough to transmit a pathogen from person to person. In others – such as HIV – transmission occurs through sexual intercourse or contact with an infected person's blood. Bacterial diseases such as typhoid or salmonella can spread via drinking water or food. With fungal infections, on the other hand, people become infected through physical contact or contaminated objects, such as tiles in a swimming pool.
According to an evaluation by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the following infectious diseases cause the highest number of deaths in Europe highest disease burden – in descending order:
According to the study, influenza accounts for almost 30 percent of the total years of life lost to infectious diseases in Europe, followed by tuberculosis with 20 percent. HIV costs 18 percent of life years lost; pneumococcal infections account for one-tenth of the disease burden. The figures are based on reporting data from EU countries between 2009 and 2013.