Infectious disease

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Germs, or microbes, are found everywhere - in the air, soil, and water. There are also germs on your skin and in your body. Many of them are harmless, and some can even be helpful. But some of them can make you sick. Infectious diseases are diseases that are caused by germs.

There are many different ways that you can get an infectious disease:

  • Through direct contact with a person who is sick. This includes kissing, touching, sneezing, coughing, and sexual contact. Pregnant mothers can also pass some germs along to their babies.
  • Through indirect contact, when you touch something that has germs on it. For example, you could get germs if someone who is sick touched a door handle, and then you touch it.
  • Through insect or animal bites
  • Through contaminated food, water, soil, or plants

There are four main kinds of germs:

  • acteria - one-celled germs that multiply quickly. They may give off toxins, which are harmful chemicals that can make you sick. Strep throat and urinary tract infections are common bacterial infections.
  • Viruses - tiny capsules that contain genetic material. They invade your cells so that they can multiply. This can kill, damage, or change the cells and make you sick. Viral infections include HIV/AIDS and the common cold.
  • Fungi - primitive plant-like organisms such as mushrooms, mold, mildew, and yeasts. Athlete's foot is a common fungal infection.
  • Parasites - animals or plants that survive by living on or in other living things. Malaria is an infection caused by a parasite.

Infectious diseases can cause many different symptoms. Some are so mild that you may not even notice any symptoms, while others can be life-threatening. There are treatments for some infectious diseases, but for others, such as some viruses, you can only treat your symptoms.

Infectious diseases arranged by name

Acinetobacter baumannii Acinetobacter infections
Actinomyces israelii, Actinomyces gerencseriae and Propionibacterium propionicus Actinomycosis
Trypanosoma brucei African sleeping sickness (African trypanosomiasis)
HIV (Human immunodeficiency virus) AIDS (Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome)
Entamoeba histolytica Amebiasis
Anaplasma species Anaplasmosis
Angiostrongylus Angiostrongyliasis
Anisakis Anisakiasis
Bacillus anthracis Anthrax
Arcanobacterium haemolyticum Arcanobacterium haemolyticum infection
Junin virus Argentine hemorrhagic fever
Ascaris lumbricoides Ascariasis
Aspergillus species Aspergillosis
Astroviridae family Astrovirus infection
Babesia species Babesiosis
Bacillus cereus Bacillus cereus infection
multiple bacteria Bacterial meningitis
multiple bacteria Bacterial pneumonia
List of bacterial vaginosis microbiota Bacterial vaginosis
Bacteroides species Bacteroides infection
Balantidium coli Balantidiasis
Bartonella Bartonellosis
Baylisascaris species Baylisascaris infection
BK virus BK virus infection
Piedraia hortae Black piedra
Blastocystis species Blastocystosis
Blastomyces dermatitidis Blastomycosis
Machupo virus Bolivian hemorrhagic fever
Clostridium botulinum; Note: Botulism is not an infection by Clostridium botulinum but caused by the intake of botulinum toxin. Botulism (and Infant botulism)
Sabiá virus Brazilian hemorrhagic fever
Brucella species Brucellosis
Yersinia Pestis Bubonic plague
usually Burkholderia cepacia and other Burkholderia species Burkholderia infection
Mycobacterium ulcerans Buruli ulcer
Caliciviridae family Calicivirus infection (Norovirus and Sapovirus)
Campylobacter species Campylobacteriosis
usually Candida albicans and other Candida species Candidiasis (Moniliasis; Thrush)
Intestinal disease by Capillaria philippinensis, hepatic disease by Capillaria hepatica and pulmonary disease by Capillaria aerophila Capillariasis
Bartonella bacilliformis Carrion's disease
Bartonella henselae Cat-scratch disease
usually Group A Streptococcus and Staphylococcus Cellulitis
Trypanosoma cruzi Chagas Disease (American trypanosomiasis)
Haemophilus ducreyi Chancroid
Varicella zoster virus (VZV) Chickenpox
Alphavirus Chikungunya
Chlamydia trachomatis Chlamydia
Chlamydophila pneumoniae Chlamydophila pneumoniae infection (Taiwan acute respiratory agent or TWAR)
Vibrio cholerae Cholera
usually Fonsecaea pedrosoi Chromoblastomycosis
Batrachochytrium dendrabatidis Chytridiomycosis
Clonorchis sinensis Clonorchiasis
Clostridium difficile Clostridium difficile colitis
Coccidioides immitis and Coccidioides posadasii Coccidioidomycosis
Colorado tick fever virus (CTFV) Colorado tick fever (CTF)
usually rhinoviruses and coronaviruses Common cold (Acute viral rhinopharyngitis; Acute coryza)
PRNP Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (CJD)
Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF)
Cryptococcus neoformans Cryptococcosis
Cryptosporidium species Cryptosporidiosis
usually Ancylostoma braziliense; multiple other parasites Cutaneous larva migrans (CLM)
Cyclospora cayetanensis Cyclosporiasis
Taenia solium Cysticercosis
Cytomegalovirus Cytomegalovirus infection
Dengue viruses (DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3 and DEN-4) – Flaviviruses Dengue fever
Green algae Desmodesmus armatus Desmodesmus infection
Dientamoeba fragilis Dientamoebiasis
Corynebacterium diphtheriae Diphtheria
Diphyllobothrium Diphyllobothriasis
Dracunculus medinensis Dracunculiasis
Ebolavirus (EBOV) Ebola hemorrhagic fever
Echinococcus species Echinococcosis
Ehrlichia species Ehrlichiosis
Enterobius vermicularis Enterobiasis (Pinworm infection)
Enterococcus species Enterococcus infection
Enterovirus species Enterovirus infection
Rickettsia prowazekii Epidemic typhus
Parvovirus B19 Erythema infectiosum (Fifth disease)
Human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) and Human herpesvirus 7 (HHV-7) Exanthem subitum (Sixth disease)
Fasciola hepatica and Fasciola gigantica Fasciolasis
Fasciolopsis buski Fasciolopsiasis
PRNP Fatal familial insomnia (FFI)
Filarioidea superfamily Filariasis
Clostridium perfringens Food poisoning by Clostridium perfringens
multiple Free-living amebic infection
Fusobacterium species Fusobacterium infection
usually Clostridium perfringens; other Clostridium species Gas gangrene (Clostridial myonecrosis)
Geotrichum candidum Geotrichosis
PRNP Gerstmann-Sträussler-Scheinker syndrome (GSS)
Giardia lamblia Giardiasis
Burkholderia mallei Glanders
Gnathostoma spinigerum and Gnathostoma hispidum Gnathostomiasis
Neisseria gonorrhoeae Gonorrhea
Klebsiella granulomatis Granuloma inguinale (Donovanosis)
Streptococcus pyogenes Group A streptococcal infection
Streptococcus agalactiae Group B streptococcal infection
Haemophilus influenzae Haemophilus influenzae infection
Enteroviruses, mainly Coxsackie A virus and Enterovirus 71 (EV71) Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD)
Sin Nombre virus Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS)
Heartland virus Heartland virus disease
Helicobacter pylori Helicobacter pylori infection
Escherichia coli O157:H7, O111 and O104:H4 Hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS)
Bunyaviridae family Hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS)
Hendra virus Hendra virus infection
Hepatitis A virus Hepatitis A
Hepatitis B virus Hepatitis B
Hepatitis C virus Hepatitis C
Hepatitis D Virus Hepatitis D
Hepatitis E virus Hepatitis E
Herpes simplex virus 1 and 2 (HSV-1 and HSV-2) Herpes simplex
Histoplasma capsulatum Histoplasmosis
Ancylostoma duodenale and Necator americanus Hookworm infection
Human bocavirus (HBoV) Human bocavirus infection
Ehrlichia ewingii Human ewingii ehrlichiosis
Anaplasma phagocytophilum Human granulocytic anaplasmosis (HGA)
Human metapneumovirus (hMPV) Human metapneumovirus infection
Ehrlichia chaffeensis Human monocytic ehrlichiosis
One of the Human papillomaviruses Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection
Human parainfluenza viruses (HPIV) Human parainfluenza virus infection
Hymenolepis nana and Hymenolepis diminuta Hymenolepiasis
Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) Epstein–Barr virus infectious mononucleosis (Mono)
Orthomyxoviridae family Influenza (flu)
Isospora belli Isosporiasis
unknown; evidence supports that it is infectious Kawasaki disease
multiple Keratitis
Kingella kingae Kingella kingae infection
Lassa virus Lassa fever
Legionella pneumophila Legionellosis (Legionnaires' disease)
Legionella pneumophila Legionellosis (Pontiac fever)
Leishmania species Leishmaniasis
Mycobacterium leprae and Mycobacterium lepromatosis Leprosy
Leptospira species Leptospirosis
Listeria monocytogenes Listeriosis
Borrelia burgdorferi, Borrelia garinii, and Borrelia afzelii Lyme disease (Lyme borreliosis)
Wuchereria bancrofti and Brugia malayi Lymphatic filariasis (Elephantiasis)
Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) Lymphocytic choriomeningitis
Plasmodium species Malaria
Marburg virus Marburg hemorrhagic fever (MHF)
Measles virus Measles
Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)
Burkholderia pseudomallei Melioidosis (Whitmore's disease)
multiple Meningitis
Neisseria meningitidis Meningococcal disease
usually Metagonimus yokagawai Metagonimiasis
Microsporidia phylum Microsporidiosis
Molluscum contagiosum virus (MCV) Molluscum contagiosum (MC)
Monkeypox virus Monkeypox
Mumps virus Mumps
Rickettsia typhi Murine typhus (Endemic typhus)
Mycoplasma pneumoniae Mycoplasma pneumonia
Mycoplasma genitalium Mycoplasma genitalium infection
numerous species of bacteria (Actinomycetoma) and fungi (Eumycetoma) Mycetoma (disambiguation)
parasitic dipterous fly larvae Myiasis
most commonly Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae Neonatal conjunctivitis (Ophthalmia neonatorum)
Nipah virus Nipah virus infection
Norovirus Norovirus (children and babies)
PRNP (New) Variant Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (vCJD, nvCJD)
usually Nocardia asteroides and other Nocardia species Nocardiosis
Onchocerca volvulus Onchocerciasis (River blindness)
Opisthorchis viverrini and Opisthorchis felineus Opisthorchiasis
Paracoccidioides brasiliensis Paracoccidioidomycosis (South American blastomycosis)
usually Paragonimus westermani and other Paragonimus species Paragonimiasis
Pasteurella species Pasteurellosis
Pediculus humanus capitis Pediculosis capitis (Head lice)
Pediculus humanus corporis Pediculosis corporis (Body lice)
Pthirus pubis Pediculosis pubis (Pubic lice, Crab lice)
multiple Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
Bordetella pertussis Pertussis (Whooping cough)
Yersinia pestis Plague
Streptococcus pneumoniae Pneumococcal infection
Pneumocystis jirovecii Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP)
multiple Pneumonia
Poliovirus Poliomyelitis
Prevotella species Prevotella infection
usually Naegleria fowleri Primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM)
JC virus Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy
Chlamydophila psittaci Psittacosis
Coxiella burnetii Q fever
Rabies virus Rabies
Borrelia hermsii, Borrelia recurrentis, and other Borrelia species Relapsing fever
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) Respiratory syncytial virus infection
Rhinosporidium seeberi Rhinosporidiosis
Rhinovirus Rhinovirus infection
Rickettsia species Rickettsial infection
Rickettsia akari Rickettsialpox
Rift Valley fever virus Rift Valley fever (RVF)
Rickettsia rickettsii Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF)
Rotavirus Rotavirus infection
Rubella virus Rubella
Salmonella species Salmonellosis
SARS coronavirus SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome)
Sarcoptes scabiei Scabies
Group A Streptococcus species Scarlet fever
Schistosoma species Schistosomiasis
multiple Sepsis
Shigella species Shigellosis (Bacillary dysentery)
Varicella zoster virus (VZV) Shingles (Herpes zoster)
Variola major or Variola minor Smallpox (Variola)
Sporothrix schenckii Sporotrichosis
Staphylococcus species Staphylococcal food poisoning
Staphylococcus species Staphylococcal infection
Strongyloides stercoralis Strongyloidiasis
Measles virus Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis
Treponema pallidum Syphilis
Taenia species Taeniasis
Clostridium tetani Tetanus (Lockjaw)
usually Trichophyton species Tinea barbae (Barber's itch)
usually Trichophyton tonsurans Tinea capitis (Ringworm of the Scalp)
usually Trichophyton species Tinea corporis (Ringworm of the Body)
usually Epidermophyton floccosum, Trichophyton rubrum, and Trichophyton mentagrophytes Tinea cruris (Jock itch)
Trichophyton rubrum Tinea manum (Ringworm of the Hand)
usually Hortaea werneckii Tinea nigra
usually Trichophyton species Tinea pedis (Athlete’s foot)
usually Trichophyton species Tinea unguium (Onychomycosis)
Malassezia species Tinea versicolor (Pityriasis versicolor)
Toxocara canis or Toxocara cati Toxocariasis (Ocular Larva Migrans (OLM))
Toxocara canis or Toxocara cati Toxocariasis (Visceral Larva Migrans (VLM))
Toxoplasma gondii Toxoplasmosis
Chlamydia trachomatis Trachoma
Trichinella spiralis Trichinosis
Trichomonas vaginalis Trichomoniasis
Trichuris trichiura Trichuriasis (Whipworm infection)
usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis Tuberculosis
Francisella tularensis Tularemia
Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica, serovar typhi Typhoid fever
Rickettsia Typhus fever
Ureaplasma urealyticum Ureaplasma urealyticum infection
Coccidioides immitis or Coccidioides posadasii. Valley fever
Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus Venezuelan equine encephalitis
Guanarito virus Venezuelan hemorrhagic fever
Vibrio vulnificus Vibrio vulnificus infection
Vibrio parahaemolyticus Vibrio parahaemolyticus enteritis
multiple viruses Viral pneumonia
West Nile virus West Nile Fever
Trichosporon beigelii White piedra (Tinea blanca)
Yersinia pseudotuberculosis Yersinia pseudotuberculosis infection
Yersinia enterocolitica Yersiniosis
Yellow fever virus Yellow fever
Zeaspora fungus Zeaspora
Zika virus Zika fever
Mucorales order (Mucormycosis) and Entomophthorales order (Entomophthoramycosis) Zygomycosis

See also


  • Chin J. B., ed. Control of Communicable Diseases Manual. 17th ed. APHA [American Public Health Association] Press; 2000. ISBN 978-0-87553-189-2
  • Red Book: 2009 Report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases. 2009. American Academy of Pediatrics. 28th ed. ISBN 978-1-58110-306-9
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved on August 4, 2009.


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