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Infectious diseases are illnesses caused by the spread of:

  • bacteria (for example, school sores)
  • viruses (for example, chickenpox)
  • fungi (for example, thrush)
  • parasites (for example, worms or malaria)
  • prions, the infectious agent responsible for some neurodegenerative diseases (for example, mad cow disease).

These can be spread to humans from:

  • other humans
  • animals
  • the environment, including food and water.

Diseases described have been included because they occur commonly or because they cause particular concern in the community (the names used are those by which these conditions are commonly known). For infectious diseases not included here, see the Control of Communicable Diseases Manual, edited by David L. Heymann, 20th edition, 2015.


The views contained in this publication are not necessarily those of the Minister for Health or the Department for Health and Ageing. No responsibility is accepted by the Minister for Health or the Department for Health and Ageing for any errors or omissions contained within this publication. The information contained within the publication is for general information only. Readers should always seek independent, professional advice where appropriate, and no liability will be accepted for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information in this publication.

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