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What is a contagious disease?

A contagious disease is a very communicable disease capable of spreading rapidly from one person to another by contact or close proximity. People can be infected with dangerous diseases in a number of ways. Some germs, like those causing malaria, are passed to humans by animals. Other germs, like those that cause botulism, are carried to people by contaminated food or water. Still others, like the ones causing measles, are passed directly from person to person. These diseases are called contagious.

Contagious diseases that pose a health risk to people have always existed. While the spread of many of these diseases has been controlled through vaccination and other public health efforts, avian influenza (bird flu) and terrorist acts worldwide have raised concerns about the possibility of a disease risk. That makes it important for people to understand what can and would be done to protect the public from the spread of dangerous contagious diseases.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.