Risk Factors for Contracting Communicable Diseases

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  • 0:04 What is a Communicable…
  • 0:58 Common Risk Factors
  • 3:51 Risk Factors After…
  • 5:11 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rachel Torrens
Communicable diseases are all around us. In this lesson, discover certain risk factors that can make you more likely to catch one of these diseases. By knowing what places you at high risk, you'll be able to stay low risk!

What Is a Communicable Disease?

A communicable disease is any illness, either temporary or life-long, that one individual can spread to another individual. Some are just temporary, like the flu, the chicken pox, and the common cold; other types of communicable diseases can last a lifetime, such as hepatitis and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). It's hard to believe that a relatively mild illness like a cold and a life-changing health condition such as AIDS are both classified as communicable diseases, but it's the truth.

Now, you may be thinking ''Gosh, all illnesses must be communicable disease!'' However, there are many types of illnesses. Genetic disorders, idiopathic illnesses, and autoimmune diseases are all not communicable. What is the major difference between these illnesses and communicable diseases? Simply put, you cannot catch them.

Common Risk Factors

There are certain factors that make a person more susceptible to catching one of these communicable diseases. We'll start by examining each of the common risk factors in the United States. These risk factors include:

  • High exposure rates: Obviously, those individuals who are around communicable disease more are at a higher risk of contracting them. For example, health care workers, nursing home aides, and preschool teachers are more likely to contract an illness because they are exposed to illnesses more often. Similarly, certain communicable diseases are spread by vectors, which are living organisms that carry a disease from one organism to another. A good example of a vector is the mosquito, which is known to carry malaria; so, someone living in a place with a lot of mosquitos, like South Africa, is more likely to get malaria than someone living in Alaska.

Mosquitoes are vectors of communicable diseases, sometimes passing an illness from one individual to another.
Mosquito biting an arm.

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