Infectious diseases are disorders caused by organisms (pathogens) that get into our body from the outside. Many organisms live in and dwell on the human body. They are normally harmless or even beneficial. However, there are also organisms that can cause infections that are difficult to fight.
Infectious diseases are different in how they spread and affect our body. Treatment is also different depending on the origin of the infectious agent. Learn more about the four types of infectious diseases by expanding the below sections.
Bacterial infections can affect your skin, brain, blood, and other part of your body. Some of the most common diseases caused by bacteria are strep throat and tuberculosis, but others, such as salmonellosis, pneumonia, or meningitis, can be highly serious.
Did you know? Antibiotics are one of the most significant discoveries in medical history; they save millions of lives. Since penicillin was first discovered in 1928 by Alexander Fleming, antimicrobials have revolutionized our society and economy.
Deaths per year from mycobacterium tuberculosis, the world's leading infectious disease (1)
Are not effective against viruses
Some bacteria are naturally resistant to certain antibiotics
Viral infections can affect different areas and systems of the body, the most common of which being the respiratory system. Some of the most common diseases caused by viruses are flu, herpes and warts, but others, such as HIV/AIDS, Ebola, and COVID-19 can cause severe illness.
Did you know? Antiviral medicines unlike most antibiotics, do not kill their target pathogen; instead they prevent its growth.
Cases of COVID-19 reported (2)
A person dies from viral hepatitis (3)
Has been found in all regions of the world
Parasitic infections can affect your intestine but also your lungs, your cardiovascular system, and even your neurological system. Some of the most common diseases caused by parasites are amoebiasis, ascariasis, and trichuriasis, but others, such as malaria are dangerous.
Did you know? Parasitic infections are one of the world’s major causes of human illness and suffering. Protozans cause a variety of diseases, including Chaga’s disease and malaria which is transmitted through a bite of a female anopheles mosquito.
Deaths per year from malaria (4)
People infected with Whipworm (5)
Fungal infections can affect your skin, hair and nails, but also organs such as the lungs, eyes, liver, and brain. Some of the most common diseases caused by fungi are athlete’s foot and ringworm, but others, such as aspergillosis and histoplasma are more serious.
Did you know? Fungi can develop resistance to antifungal drugs the same way bacteria can develop resistance to antibiotics.
People breathe in or come in contact with fungal spores without getting sick
Severe cases of fungal infections every year (6)
Can spread across countries and continents through people, animals, and goods
To treat infectious diseases, we use active substances of natural or synthetic origin known as antimicrobials which inhibit or kill the growth of microorganisms. They play a crucial role in treating diseases of human, animals and plants.
Antimicrobial products are among the most commonly used types of drugs. Each of them works against only one type of organism. Traditionally, they have been prescribed by doctors, but nowadays a rising number of healthcare professionals are involved in prescribing decisions, including pharmacists and nurses.
Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections. They can be bought at the pharmacy or administered at a hospital. In many countries, they are only available with a prescription.
Antivirals are used to treat viral infections. Some are effective against a broad spectrum of viruses, but the vast majority target specific viruses.
Antiparasitics are used to treat infectious diseases caused by parasites such as threadworm, tick, and headlice. Antiparasitic drugs are frequently available over the counter.
Antifungals are used to treat fungal infections. They either kill or prevent further growth of fungi. Most antifungal medicines can be bought at the pharmacy without a healthcare professional’s prescription.
Antimicrobial resistance is the ability of microbes to neutralise the effects of drugs. The main drivers in the development of drug-resistant pathogens are misuse and overuse of antimicrobials.
The emergence of microbial resistance to conventional medicines is a serious danger to the effectiveness of current antimicrobial therapy.
Deaths attributable to bacterial AMR in 2019 (7)
Infections in the EU/EEA due to bacteria resistant to antibiotics every year (7)
Antibiotic resistance is a narrower term; it is the ability of bacteria to become resistant to an antibiotic to which they were previously susceptible. That means the bacteria are not killed and continue to grow.
Only microorganisms, not people, become resistant to antibiotics. Some pathogens can be resistant to multiple antibiotics available for treatment (multidrug-resistance). Human activity can even introduce antibiotic-resistant germs into the environment (soil, water).
People in EU die each year as a direct consequence of infections due to resistance to antibiotics (8)
Patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in the US from Mar-Oct 2020 received an antibiotic (9)
The greatest gift you can give yourself and your loved ones is a healthy you. Take care of your body and focus on living the highest quality of life you can through your daily choices.
At Acino, we have longstanding knowledge which we want to share with you. Explore our materials to raise your awareness, and make decisions to stay healthy and to improve your quality of life.
No one can completely avoid getting an infection, but you can:
Over 30 different bacteria, viruses and parasites are known to be transmitted through sexual contact. Ways to protect yourself include:
Last update: 16 November 2022
1. Physiopedia Bacterial Infections – 2020 data. Available at: https://www.physio-pedia.com/Bacterial_Infections (last accessed 22.10.2022).
2. Coronavirus Resource Center – 2022 data. Available at: https://origin-coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html (last accessed: 26.10.2022)
3. World Hepatitis Alliance and WHO – 2022 data. Available at: www.who.int/news/item/07-06-2022-world-hepatitis-summit-2022-urges-action-to-eliminate-viral-hepatitis-as-unexplained-hepatitis-cases-in-children-rise-globally (last accessed: 26.10.2022)
4. Parasites – 2022. Availabel at: https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/about.html (last accessed: 25.10.2022)
5. Parasites – Trichuriasis (also known as Whipworm Infection) – 2020 data. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/whipworm/index.html (last accessed: 25.10.2022)
6. Fungal infections in humans: the silent crisis – 2020. Available at: https://microbialcell.com/researcharticles/2020a-kainz-microbial-cell/ last accessed: 25.10.2022)
7. Antimicrobial Resistance Collaborators – 2022. Global burden of bacterial antimicrobial resistance in 2019: a systematic analysis. The Lancet; 399(10325):P629-655. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(21)02724-0 (last accessed 14.10.2022).
8. Antimicrobial resistance surveillance in Europe 2022 – 2020 data. (2022, January 26). European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Available at https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/publications-data/antimicrobial-resistance-surveillance-europe-2022-2020-data (last accessed 13.10.2022). Estimates based on data from EARS-Net.
9. COVID-19: U.S. Impact on Antimicrobial Resistance, Special Report 2022. (2022, June 14). Available at: https://stacks.cdc.gov/view/cdc/117915 (last accessed 12.10.2022).