Infectious diseases

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Infectious disease is an illness caused by the growth of  disease-producing microorganisms in the body. Infectious diseases may be contagious. The course of infectious diseases is often marked by certain stages or periods. The stage during which the germs are developing in the body without characteristic manifestations is called the period of incubation. It is followed by the prodromal stage during which the initial symptoms appear. After that the stage of the fully developed disease and the stage of decline come.

            Prodromal symptoms appear earlier than the characteristic features, and therefore it may be impossible to make a diagnosis in the initial stage of the disease.

            Such infectious disease as scarlet fever may have a sudden onset; however in others, such as enteric fever, the onset may be gradual.

            A sore throat, a running nose and cough may occur among the most characteristic local symptoms. A sore throat is particularly characteristic of such diseases as scarlet fever and diphtheria; cough occurs in case of whooping-cough or measles.

            A rash is a clinical feature of many infectious diseases such as chicken-pox, smallpox. Special attention should be paid to the type of rash, its color and distribution, and whether it is associated with itching or not.

            All infectious diseases are caused by specific microorganisms, which may be revealed by bacteriological tests: for example, typhoid bacilli are found in the blood, stools and sometimes in the urine in enteric fever; meningococci are found in the blood and cerebrospinal fluid in meningitis.

            Only in certain individuals natural immunity to some infectious diseases may exist. An artificial immunity results from prophylactic vaccination.

            Thanks to the scientific achievements of our medical research work such diseases as the plague, cholera, malaria and others have been stamped out in our country. Smallpox was the first infectious disease eradicated via vaccination.

            Some infectious diseases occur most often in children under the age of 10.

            Diphtheria is caused by bacterium that usually grows on the membranes of the nose and throat; it is now a rare disease because of wide-spread vaccination against it.

            Chicken-pox produces an itchy blister-like rash.

            Scarlet fever may develop after a sore throat or acute tonsillitis; it can be spread by contaminated food or by infected droplets in the air.

            Mumps causes painful inflammation and swelling of the salivary glands.

            Whooping cough is a disease of the respiratory tract.

            Meningitis is inflammation of the membranes that cover the brain and the spinal cord.

            Let’s take, for example, a very rare case of enteric fever. Person’s prodromal

symptoms may consist of the loss of appetite, dull headache and general malaise. His characteristic symptoms may be high temperature, diarrhea, slow pulse, a characteristic eruption on the abdomen, a coated tongue, and the patient may complain of thirst.

            The course of proper treatment may consist of antibiotics, intravenous injections of glucose, heart drugs, a strict diet, and a bed regime.

            After the course of treatment the patient’s temperature becomes normal, the tongue clears, the appetite improves, and the strength  returns. However, the patient’s convalescence may be slow.

            The doctors of the infection clinic must have a wonderful bedside manner and a hearty attitude to their patients to encourage and help them to recover.

            Other infectious diseases are brucellosis, encephalitis, hepatitis, tuberculosis, typhoid fever, typhus, yellow fever, and others.

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