Ports and disease
What is an infectious disease?
A disease is infectious if it can be passed from one person to another. All infectious diseases are caused by an agent – mainly microbes such as bacteria and viruses.
How diseases spread
All diseases have one or more ways of spreading – or modes of transmission.
Some diseases cannot be transmitted easily. A good example is rabies - a deadly disease but one that only people bitten by infected animals can catch.
Where transmission depends on such very specific conditions, relatively small numbers of people are affected at any one time.
However, some diseases can be transmitted far more easily. Airborne and waterborne diseases spread particularly rapidly in the right conditions.
As this example shows, one infected person can pass on a disease to many other people. Epidemics are serious outbreaks of a disease affecting large numbers of people at the same time.
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