Infectious diseases are any infections caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites or fungi that can be spread from human to human, either by direct contact or indirectly via vectors such as animals, food or water, or bodily fluids. Common infectious diseases include the flu, hepatitis, HIV, malaria, pneumonia, and Strep throat, and chances are, you had had at least one of these in your lifetime.
But not all infectious diseases are created equal. In fact, the CDC has organized them into four levels based on how likely they are to kill you and how easy it is to kill them. As you could predict, Ebola and Marburg virus (with a case fatality rate of up to 88%) are up at level 4, while the normally harmless Bacillus subtilis (hay bacillus), grown on an industrial scale to harvest the enzyme protease, mellows out at level 1.
With the flu season rapidly approaching, now is a good time to review the best ways to protect yourself from not only the flu, but from any infection that may be lurking unseen in the air you breathe, the food you eat, or on the people you love.
• Wash and dry your hands after going to the toilet, touching animals or people, and before you eat.
• Immunize yourself against the flu and other vaccine-preventable diseases.
• Stay at home if you are sick and limit your contact (if you can) with other people.
• Cough or sneeze into a tissue then discard that tissue hygienically straight away.
• Wipe down surfaces, such as bench tops, door handles and stair banisters regularly.
• Prepare food safely and ensure meat is always cooked in the middle to the recommended temperature.
• Practice safe sex.
To read about some of the ickier infectious diseases of the world, see here.