A communicable disease is one that can be spread from one individual to other individuals. There are several ways in which diseases can be communicated. These include airborne and oral transmission and sexual intercourse. Therefore, it is necessary to develop various methods to control communicable diseases. These include wearing condoms, taking vaccines, and educating the public.
There are numerous communicable diseases transmitted through sexual intercourse, hence the term sexually transmitted disease (STD). These diseases can be spread between heterosexual or homosexual couples if one is infected and the exposes the infection to an opening or mucous membrane. For this reason, the use of condoms is stressed globally as one of the primary ways to control certain communicable diseases. It should be noted that this method is effective for certain infections that are not considered STDs.
Another important protective barrier used for disease control is gloves. In the past, it was common to find physicians treating patients with unprotected hands. However, this practice has drastically declined because it poses a risk to both medical professionals and patients. The use of masks can provide similar protection when communicable diseases are airborne. These may be worn in medical facilities or, as could be seen with the outbreak of the bird flu, people may wear them in public.
Vaccines are an effective method to control communicable diseases in some instances. A vaccine is a partial or weak version of a virus or bacteria intentionally administered to prevent infection of a certain disease. However, developing a vaccine can be complicated and there are some diseases for which the development of a suitable vaccine has not been found.
Quarantine is a method that involves isolating one or more infected people so they do not spread contagious diseases to others. Although it can be an effective method to control communicable diseases, it is not among the most commonly used. Many people argue it is unethical and forcing someone to be quarantined often raises legal questions, especially with regard to the right to liberty.
Public education is a good way to control communicable diseases. When people are knowledgeable, many will take the necessary steps to safeguard themselves and their families from harm. However, many people think of education as something offered only to students. Governments have a responsibility to find ways to educate the general public. Good examples include public service announcements and the establishment of agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States (US).