Contagious Disease vs. Infectious Disease

What is the difference between contagious diseases and infectious diseases? Two terms commonly used by laypersons that refer…

What is the difference between contagious diseases and infectious diseases?

Two terms commonly used by laypersons that refer to diseases are infectious and contagious. All diseases are infections caused by bacteria or viruses in which micro-organisms invade the body and disrupt the normal functioning of different parts of the body. Some of these infections can be spread from one person to another and are called contagious diseases. Humans can also catch infections from animals, rodents and insects, and in this case they are called infectious diseases. Malaria is an example of an infectious disease because it comes from the bite of a mosquito.

Contagious Diseases

A contagious disease can only spread from one person to another when there is direct contact. This can be by being in the presence of a person with this disease when he coughs or sneezes into the air or by touching something that this person has touched and don’t wash your hands immediately afterwards. There are many examples of contagious diseases, such as chickenpox and measles, which spread very quickly through all the people in a household when one person comes down with it.

Flus and colds are also examples of contagious diseases. You can catch these by shaking hands with a person who is infected and since they are also airborne, you can contract them from the air as well.

Infectious Diseases

An infectious disease is far more dangerous than a contagious disease because it is possible to contract such a disease without coming in contact with a person who has it. This is because the diseases that fall into this category can be spread through the air or through water.

Not everyone who does come in contact with a person who has an infectious or contagious disease will catch the illness. It depends on the strength of the body’s immune system that determines whether or not a person will contract the disease. Even though a disease may be contagious some are harder to contract than others. AIDS, for example, is a contagious disease but you cannot catch it by shaking hands with someone or even being in their presence when they cough or sneeze. Although it is not as contagious as some other diseases, it is a lot more dangerous and is fatal.

One rule to remember about the difference between contagious and infectious diseases is that all contagious diseases are infectious, but not all infectious diseases are contagious.  Dengue Fever is an example of an infectious disease that is not contagious. It is caused by a mosquito bite and even though it is a dangerous disease, you cannot catch it from an infected person. There has been a comprehensive list of infectious and contagious diseases to which you can refer for more information.

There are ways of protecting yourself against contracting both infectious and contagious diseases. Good hygiene habits and a well-balanced diet will go a long way towards keeping you healthy because it keeps your immune system healthy. Handwashing is also very important because many of the infections come from the objects that we touch. There are also various vaccines that will boost the immune system preventing you from contracting a disease.


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