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Infectious Diseases: Meningitis, Typhoid, Leprosy

Bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, and other organisms cause infectious diseases. Our bodies are inhabited by many organisms.

Infectious Diseases

Bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, and other organisms cause infectious diseases. Our bodies are inhabited by many organisms. These organisms are usually harmless. However, some can cause disease under certain conditions. Persons can contract certain infectious diseases from one another. Others can be passed from animal to animal. Additionally, you could contract others if you eat or drink contaminated food or water or are in contact with organisms in the environment. Fever and fatigue are common symptoms of infections, but the type of organism responsible for the infection depends on the symptoms. Infections that are mild can be treated at home, while infections that are life-threatening might require hospitalization. Immunization is effective in preventing many infectious diseases, including measles and chickenpox. In addition to protecting, you from most infectious diseases, frequent and thorough hand-washing helps.


There are specific signs and symptoms associated with each infectious disease. Some of the common symptoms and signs include:
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • Diarrhea
  • Coughing
  • Fever


Among the causes of infectious diseases are:
  • Bacteria - Infections such as strep throat, tuberculosis, and urinary tract infections are caused by these one-celled organisms.
  • Viruses - Viral diseases, including the common cold and AIDS, are smaller than bacteria.
  • Fungi - Ringworm and athlete's foot are among the many skin diseases caused by fungi. As well as fungi, fungi can affect the immune system.
  • Parasites - Mosquito bites are the source of malaria transmission. The feces of animals can transmit other parasites to humans.

Direct contact

The easiest way to get infected is to come in contact with someone infected or with an animal. Diseases that can be spread directly include:
  • Person to person - Bacteria, viruses, and other microbes commonly cause infectious diseases to spread directly from one person to another. In order to spread viruses and bacteria, it is necessary to touch, kiss, cough, sneeze, or sneeze on someone who is not infected. The spread of these germs can also be caused by body fluid exchange associated with sexual contact. The person who passes the germ may not show any symptoms of the disease, but can only be a carrier.
  • Animal to person - An animal bite or scratch - even one that is a pet - can cause serious illness or, in some cases, death. Dealing with animal waste can also pose a risk. If you scoop your cat's litter box, for example, you can get toxoplasmosis.
  • Mother to unborn child - Pregnant women are at risk of transmitting germs that may cause infectious diseases to their unborn babies. Breast milk and placenta can carry germs. It is also possible for the vaginal germs to pass to the baby during birth.

Indirect contact

Indirect contact can also transmit disease-causing organisms. The germs found on inanimate objects, such as tabletops, doorknobs and faucet handles, can linger for quite some time. The germs left on a doorknob by someone who is ill with the flu or a cold can be transmitted to you when you touch it. Before washing your hands, you may contract an infection if you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.

Insect bites

Germs can only spread from one host to another if they are carried by an insect, such as a mosquito, flea, lice or tick. Vectors are responsible for this transmission. In addition to carrying malaria and West Nile viruses, mosquitoes can transmit the malaria parasite. Lyme disease may be spread by deer ticks.

Food contamination

A contaminated water or food can also transmit disease-causing germs. Using this transmission mechanism, germs can be transmitted from one person to many. Erwinia coli (E. coli), for example, is a bacterium that lives inside or on certain foods - such as unpasteurized fruit juice or undercooked hamburgers.


Inflammation of the surrounding fluid and membranes (meninges) causes meningitis. A meningitis flare-up typically causes symptoms such as headaches, fever, and stiffness in the neck. Meningitis is most often caused by viruses, but can also be caused by bacteria, parasites, and fungi. The condition of meningitis is sometimes self-resolving within a few weeks. Unfortunately, some are life-threatening and must be treated with antibiotics immediately.


The flu (influenza) can mimic the early symptoms of meningitis. A person may experience symptoms over a few hours or days. The following signs and symptoms can be seen in people older than 2:
  • Seizures
  • Stiff neck
  • Skin rash
  • Sensitive to light
  • No thirst or appetite
  • Difficulty in waking up or sleepiness
  • Headache with vomiting or nausea
  • Severe headache
  • Confusion
  • Sudden high fever
Signs in newborn or infants:
  • Difficulty in waking up
  • Vomiting
  • Not waking to eat
  • Irritability
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • High fever
  • Constant crying
  • Poor feeding
  • Stiffness in neck or body
  • Inactive

When comforting a child with meningitis, it may even make his or her crying worse.


It is most commonly caused by a viral infection, followed by a bacterial infection and, less frequently, by fungal or parasitic infection. The cause of bacterial infections must be determined since they can be life-threatening.

Bacterial meningitis

In acute bacterial meningitis, bacterial toxins travel through the bloodstream and reach the brain and spine. Infection of the meninges can also cause it. Infections of the ears or sinuses, skull fractures, or - rarely - some surgeries may cause this condition. Bacteria can cause acute bacterial meningitis in a variety of ways, but the most common are as follows:
  • Streptococcus pneumonia (pneumococcus) - Children, infants, and adults are most susceptible to bacterial meningitis caused by this bacterium. Infections of the ear or sinuses are more likely to occur. Vaccines are available to prevent this infection.
  • Neisseria meningitidis (Meningococcus) - Another bacterium that causes bacterial meningitis is Acinetobacter. As they enter the bloodstream, these bacteria are known to cause upper respiratory infections and meningococcal meningitis. Teenagers and young adults are mostly affected by this highly contagious infection. In dorms, boarding schools, and military bases, it can cause outbreaks on a local scale. Infections can be prevented with a vaccine. In the case of close contact with someone with meningococcal meningitis, an oral antibiotic can also provide protection.
  • As a result of the Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) bacterium, children once faced the risk of developing bacterial meningitis. Although new Hib vaccines have greatly reduced the incidence of this type of meningitis.
  • Listeria monocytogenes (listeria) - Among the foods containing these bacteria are cheeses, hot dogs, and lunch meats that have not been pasteurized. The most vulnerable are the elderly, pregnant women, infants, and those with weakened immune systems. The placenta is permeable to Listeria, which may kill the baby in late pregnancy.

Viral meningitis

Meningitis caused by viruses typically resolves on its own. It is usually caused by a type of virus called enterovirus, which peaks in late summer and early autumn. Many viruses can cause viral meningitis, including HIV, herpes simplex, mumps and West Nile virus.

Chronic meningitis

Those that inflict chronic meningitis on your brain are slow-growing organisms (including mycobacteria like tuberculosis and fungi). In the longer-term, chronic meningitis can prevent you from working regularly. Chronic meningitis is characterized by headache, fever, vomiting, and a cloudy mental state similar to acute meningitis.

Fungal meningitis

Symptoms can be similar to acute bacterial meningitis. Often, it is contracted after inhaling spores from decaying wood, soil, and bird droppings. The fungus that causes fungal meningitis cannot be contagious. A fungus, Cryptococcal meningitis, can cause illness in people with immune deficiencies, such as AIDS patients. An antifungal medication is required if it is not treated. It may come back even after treatment.

Parasitic meningitis

Known as eosinophilic meningitis, this type of meningitis is caused by parasites. As well as parasitic meningitis, cysticercosis and cerebral malaria are also causes of parasitic meningitis. Swimming in fresh water can sometimes result in amoebic meningitis, a rare form that can quickly become life-threatening. Typically, meningitis is caused by animals being infected with parasites. Infection occurs most commonly when people consume food containing these parasites. The disease cannot be passed between people.

Other reasons for meningitis

Additionally, there are non-infectious causes of meningitis, such as chemical reactions, allergy-related diseases, and inflammatory diseases like sarcoidosis.


Salmonella typhi bacteria are the cause of typhoid fever. Developed countries are rarely affected by typhoid fever. Developing countries are still facing a serious health problem due to this disease, especially for children. Food or water contaminated with bacteria or contaminated by close contact with an infected person can cause typhoid fever. Typhoid fever usually causes the following symptoms:
  • Stomach pain
  • High fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Headache
A few days after they begin antibiotic treatment, people with typhoid fever usually feel better. However, some may suffer complications and die. Typhoid fever is largely preventable with a vaccine. In general, people who may be exposed to typhoid fever or who are traveling to areas prone to the disease are advised to get vaccinated.


In most cases, symptoms and signs will appear gradually - usually one to three weeks after exposure to the bacteria.

Early signs

  • Headache
  • Rash
  • Stomach pain
  • Dry cough
  • Sweating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscles aches
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Fever
  • Swollen stomach
  • Constipation

Later illness

  • The typhoid state is characterized by lying motionless, exhausted, half-closed, your eyes half-closed
  • Become delirious
Complications can often be life-threatening during this period. Some individuals may experience signs and symptoms for up to two weeks after the fever subsides.


Typhoid fever is caused by Salmonella typhi. There is a connection between Salmonella typhi and salmonellosis, a serious intestinal infection, but the two are not the same.

Fecal-oral transmission

Typhoid bacteria can spread to people in developed countries when they travel. The fecal-oral route is the method by which they spread the infection once they are infected. This means that Salmonella typhi can be passed from one individual to another through their feces and urine. When someone who is infected with typhoid fever handles food that hasn't been cleaned properly after using the restroom, you may get sick. Most frequently, typhoid fever is contracted through drinking contaminated water in developing countries. Direct contact with an infected individual or eating contaminated food may also spread the bacteria.

Typhoid carriers

After treatment for Typhoid fever, bacteria can still be present in the body.A chronic carrier still has symptoms of the disease, but no longer shows signs of it. Even though they shed bacteria in their feces, they can still transmit infection to others.


Mycobacterium leprae is the bacterium responsible for the chronic and progressive development of leprosy. The nerves of the extremities, skin, nasal lining, and upper respiratory tract are primarily affected by this condition. Hansen's disease is another name for leprosy. In addition to muscle weakness and nerve damage, leprosy causes skin ulcers. The condition can lead to severe disfigurement and substantial disabilities if left untreated. As a species, we are familiar with leprosy as the oldest disease. Around 600 B.C., the first known written reference to leprosy exists.


Leprosy is characterized by the following symptoms:
  • Skin lesions
  • Muscle weakness
  • Numbness in feet, arms, legs, and hands
There is a decrease in skin senses such as touch, temperature, and pain as a result of the lesions. Although they are not healing, they persist. Whether they're lighter than your usual skin tone or red from inflammation is unknown.

How does it spread?

Infections caused by Mycobacterium leprae cause leprosy. Those with leprosy are believed to spread the infection through contact with mucous secretions. People with leprosy usually experience this when they cough or sneeze. Contagiousness is low for this disease. Leprosy can, however, be contracted through close, repeated contact for a long period of time with an untreated individual. Leprosy is caused by a slow-growing bacterium. On average, it takes about five years for the disease to incubate (before the first symptoms appear). As long as 20 years may pass before symptoms appear.
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Ankur Choudhary is India's first professional pharmaceutical blogger, author and founder of, a widely-read pharmaceutical blog since 2008. Sign-up for the free email updates for your daily dose of pharmaceutical tips.
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