Communicable diseases

Communicable (infectious) diseases can be caused by bacteria (e.g. whooping cough and tuberculosis), viruses (e.g. influenza and HIV), fungi (e.g. tinea or athlete’s foot), protozoan (microscopic) parasites (e.g. giardia) and larger parasites (e.g. head lice) [24870]. There are different risk factors for different kinds of communicable diseases. Improvements to hygiene and the increased use of vaccination and antibiotics have significantly reduced some infectious diseases in Australia [31982][32345].

Environmental conditions can contribute to the risk of disease – conditions both inside and outside the home [17750]. For example, crowded living conditions, poor bathing facilities, lack of towels, soap bed linen and laundry facilities make it difficult to maintain good personal hygiene. Overcrowding, the lack of adequate sanitation hardware (functioning toilets) and soil that is contaminated by untreated sewage, as well as a poor understanding of general hygiene also contribute to the risk of communicable disease [32171][17750].

A safe and healthy environment is essential for children’s health and development [31561]. Poor child health leads to absences from school and poorer educational attainment, while also contributing to parents missing work and loss of productivity in the community.

References

Key resources

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Artwork

Seven sisters by Josie Boyle

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